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Harper Review: pharmacies, trading hours and small business protection

November 30, 2015

This week the federal government announced its response to the Harper Competition Policy Review foreshadowing some of the most significant business reforms in two decades.

The final report made 56 recommendations for reforms across three key themes: competition policy, laws and institutions with 44 of those recommendations being supported whole or in part by the Government.

The federal government is encouraging states and territories with remaining restrictions on retail trading hours to consider whether these restrictions are impeding competition and the ability of retailers to meet customer demand for flexibility and choice, and whether they can be removed without imposing undue pressure on retailers to remain open when it is uneconomical to do so (Recommendation 12). 

Other recommendations of particular interest to the small business sector are:

  • 14 – Pharmacy: The Government recognises the need for competition in the pharmacy sector, including that the location rules should be examined closely.
  • 30 – Misuse of market power: The Government has acknowledged concerns raised about the operation of the misuse of market power provision in the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 and the Harper Review’s recommendation for reform.
  • 53 – Small business access to remedies: The Government supports the ACCC taking steps to improve its communications with small businesses (and complainants more generally).

 More information, including a Government response fact sheet, is available on the Treasury website.

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