Why a charter of competition regulation is better than the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's service charter and public shaming of corporations

Len Gainsford

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Abstract

The Dawson Committee's review of the competition provisions of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) (TPA) and its administration provides a rare opportunity to examine the working of Australian competition legislation and intervention by the competition regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). There has been some careful thinking on less direct government intervention, by business leaders in organisations such as the Business Council of Australia (BCA). This has given rise to the BCA?s proposed Charter of Competition Regulation, which compares favourably with the ACCC's Services Charter. Principles such as accountability or openness, transparency and consistency are seen as a basis for the operation of regulatory Charters. The ACCC has been criticised for its perceived lack of accountability. Criticisms also arise through what business leaders and politicians see as the ACCC?s inappropriate use of the media. This extends to the issuing by the ACCC of so called 'shame notices'. Such use by the regulator is seen to be inconsistent with accountability and good governance practice. The ACCC has responded to this criticism. Content analysis techniques are used to compare the BCA's proposed Charter of Competition Regulation with the ACCC?s Service Charter. Results from sentence comparisons show that the BCA Charter has a greater emphasis on the main themes of transparency, certainty and goal targeting. This is in addition to a sentence main theme emphasis on accountability or openness. The ACCC Charter, while dwelling to no lesser degree on accountability, has a greater emphasis on service delivery, informed Australian markets, informing consumers and complaints.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-43
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of law and financial management
Volume1
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher version archived with the permission of the publisher Macquarie Graduate School of Management, Macquarie University, NSW, Australia. This archived copy is available for individual, non-commercial use. Permission to use this version for other uses must be obtained from the publisher.

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