Increase to penalties for breaches of competition and consumer law

Australian Treasury

The Albanese Labor Government is delivering on its election commitment to protect Australian households and help ease the cost of living by increasing penalties for breaches of competition and consumer law.

Competition is key to driving down prices on everything from petrol to a packet of chips. But it’s hard for small businesses to compete if larger companies use sneaky tactics to try to dominate the market.

That’s why Labor is moving to increase penalties for corporations engaging in anti‑competitive behaviour from $10 million to $50 million, ensuring the price for misconduct is high enough to deter unfair activity.

The $10 million penalty has been in place for 30 years, and higher penalties are now needed to ensure competition and better corporate behaviour.

The current turnover‑based penalty will also be increased from 10 per cent of annual turnover to 30 per cent of turnover for the period the breach took place, and penalties for individuals will increase from $500,000 to $2.5 million. This ensures those who perpetuated the wrongdoing, either individually or on behalf of the company, are held accountable.

The legislation will have prospective application, meaning it will apply to conduct that takes place after the amendments commence.

A copy of the Exposure Draft and Explanatory Memorandum can be found on the Treasury website. Consultation opened today and will close on Thursday 25 August 2022.

Lines attributable to Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury Andrew Leigh:

“Competition is essential for a thriving economy”.

“Greater competition means better prices and more choice for Australian households struggling with the rising cost of living”.

“But we only get increased competition if the big companies play by the rules. That’s why Labor is increasing penalties, to ensure that there’s a level playing field for all Australian businesses, big and small”.

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