National Farmers' Federation

Farmers applaud passage of TPA changes for small business

FINALLY, after years of debate, the Trade Practices Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2007 (TPA) strengthening the Misuse of Market Power and Unconscionable Conduct provisions, has passed through the Senate – the last hurdle towards an outcome that is very much welcomed by the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF).
“Only those businesses with substantial market power acting with the purpose of eroding competition in the marketplace would have reason to fear the new legislation,” NFF Vice-President Charles Burke said.
“The farming community has greatly encouraged government efforts to ensure that deliberate anti-competitive activity by big business does not lead to a weakening of competition along the supply chain.
“The changes, which passed through the Senate today, bolster protection for small business by curbing predatory pricing tactics under new Misuse of Market Power powers – especially relevant to farmers in the areas of fuel distribution, retailing and transport supplies.
“Now more than ever, farmers want reassurances that they will be paid a fair price for their produce and that their inputs are also offered at a fair price. A vibrant and competitive customer and supply base is a key element to ensuring that this is achieved.
“Today’s passage of the Bill will also lead to greater scrutiny of unfair unilateral variation contract clauses that have allowed buyers to simply ‘opt out’ of their contractual obligations on a whim, leaving farmers unjustly exposed.
“Such clauses will now be targeted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on the grounds of Unconscionable Conduct, sending a strong message to those bigger players who want to exploit the limited number of buyers in regional areas.”

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