Business hates the ACCC. Good.

From the business apologists at the AFR:

Competition regulator Rod Sims has plenty of work to do to improve relations with business judging from a survey of leaders from a range of industries undertaken as part of an annual report card.

…The most damning criticism was in relation to the ACCC’s openness and transparency in its dealings with business.

Three selected quotes sum up the frustration and anger among business leaders.

One said: “We are seen as guilty until proven innocent, which means we’re operating against a backdrop of suspicion.”

Another said: “Their combative stance means that they keep everything close to their chest making it harder to know which way to jump. This has a negative impact on both resourcing and developing better relationships between our two organisations, which would surely be a win/win.”

A third said: “They never open up to us about their true intent, or let us know the real content they’re after or their timelines.”

The comments about the ACCC and its performance were compiled by ORC International in one-on-one interviews earlier this year. It was the first business stakeholder research conducted by the ACCC.

One business person summed up the problems associated with meeting ACCC demands for information with the following comment: “The costs to us are huge, millions of dollars in legal fees, internal resources and senior people tied up for days at a time”.

There are people in business who believe the ACCC’s staff lack commercial acumen.

One business leader said: “They are way too slow to get to a decision, they need to be more commercially-minded”.

Excellent. What a shame more Australian regulators aren’t hated by business. It might mean that they are actually doing their job. Regulators are not there to make businesses happy, on the contrary. The happiest business in the world is the one with no competition and monopoly pricing. Regulators are there to protect markets.

This article says lot more about the waywardness of Chanticleer and the AFR than it does the ACCC.


  1. “Regulators are there to protect markets”.

    True, but needs expanding to
    “Regulators are there to protect markets from the same people who hate the ACCC; they hate it because it stops them from rigging markets”.

  2. the_bystanderMEMBER

    ‘One said: “We are seen as guilty until proven innocent, which means we’re operating against a backdrop of suspicion.”’

    You know business lobbyists are full of it when they complain that an inept and litigation-shy regulator is somehow making life harder for them…

  3. “”Excellent. What a shame more Australian regulators aren’t hated by business. It might mean that they are actually doing their job. Regulators are not there to make businesses happy, on the contrary. The happiest business in the world is the one with no competition and monopoly pricing. Regulators are there to protect markets.””

    There are so many things wrong with that statement it is hard to know where to start. But let’s just go one thing. So I can’t set a minimum price for my products which are the best quality and best value for money in the field. The cost of displaying my product is very high…VERY high. So what happens someone who displays the product has to set a price appropriate to the cost of displaying the product. Now we have tried to protect the brand a little by requiring anyone who stocks them to have a shop and have the product on display. However children must play so there is a downward bidding war on the net. The result is less and less people are displaying the product. This is resulting in less and less choice for consumers and in a couple of years will lead to the demise of the best quality and value product on the market. Ain’t that wonderful. But nothing matters except the consumer gets the cheapest price possible (Note this whole denuding of our industrial base is a result of this bullshit concept)
    From the big corporates there is predatory pricing going on everywhere. But the ACCC doesn’t give a RA about that despite their lip service every now and again. That’s too hard!!!!!! It’s much easier to go after the smaller guys who don’t have the money to fight. In the end what we will have, well what we already getting, is dominance of markets by one or two big corporates who have direct access to Super fund money – and its optional whether they pay any”” ínterest’ at all.
    ACCC is like any other government organisation. They bear no responsibility. To go after a small guy costs the ACCC people themselves nothing. So why would they care. They can destroy someone. It’s just another feather in their cap. Whether it is right or wrong is immaterial.

    I can’t set a price but the big foreign owned shipping companies have a publicly ACCC approved agreement on the price of containers into Aus. It is effectively an artificial monopoly- approved by the ACCC. How the hell does this work?

    Then we have this sort of comment from a supposed ‘Business’ site. Strewth!!!!

    P.S. It is also very strange how easily we let go of liberties and the basis of our previously successful societies. Those on the side of their own certainty all now call for ‘Guilty until you can prove yourself innocent if you can afford it and if you can’t afford it we don’t give a s..t!”

    • I agree, the ACCC promotes oligopolies with their decisions. The policy of ‘no minimum price’ works really well for the duopoly supermarket to drive out competitions and screwing the supplier. Also note how ACCC don’t take on big players like Apple who dictates a minimum price? Another example is the decision on the number of interconnect at the NBN, killing off all the smaller ISP so pretty soon we’ll only have 3 ISP in Australia. Sometime they do good things for the consumer, like Cole’s “Freshly Baked” bread being not fresh at all, but that is a rare example.

      • Thanks Ronin Yes on all points
        My other favourite is this ‘We’ll beat any competitor ‘(published?) price by 10%. This seems to be loved by the ACCC which in its doziness thinks this means the best price for the consumer. What it is actually about is keeping prices up but ‘”if we get caught out we’ll beat the other price by 10% just this nonce for ýou””” There’s a pretence that this means they think they have the cheapest price anyway. Again it favours the big corporates who can keep prices up by advertising this stuff.

      • P.S. The way this minimum price thing is handled is for the wholesaler/manufacturer to be the sole seller. The retail shop just gets a çommission” on the sale. Maybe that is how Apple run it? For smaller people it is very hard to control. Also, of course, depends on your grip on the market.

      • re:flawse. I don’t know the exact details, however there was an article sometime back about it.

        Also, I noticed that even when Dick Smith going into liquidation they don’t goes lower than 10% discount on Apple products, and Dick Smith definitely paid for it. (From a loan from MacBank, and it’s the paying back that loan that caused HSBC to pull the plug).

    • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

      So the ACCC, in effect, supports monopolists and coporate plutocracy over small business,…Yawn.
      Its a bullshit regulator, designed to make people in the community think of themselves primarily as individual Consumers instead of a solidarity of workers or members of a Society.

      Politicians learnt long ago its hands of big business, or die.

    • ACCC isn’t perfect, but they’re necessary. They’re a pretty small commission and are constantly at war with telcos and others. Telstra alone probably has more lawyers than ACCC, and ACCC are meant to regulate them along with everything else. Mistakes will be made.

      They also try to help people deal with scams. I’ve seen firsthand that they genuinely care but lack any power to actually protect Aussies unless the scammer is dumb enough to scam from within Australia.

    • I hear ya Flawse and also lament the pathetic and conflicted ‘appearance’ of the regulators standing tall and ferociously defending the field of commerce for all participants. The most annoying thing about all this ‘huff’ despite the inaction is how these centuries old, monarchically created vestiges that permeate Strayan ‘everything’ actively seek out and strangle innovation while still in the cradle. Certainly, at this very time, fresh and pioneering ideas need to be nurtured, supported and respected. They are all ultimately components of the various ‘opolies’ that exist and prosper as each ‘member’ has been shown precisely which side of the bread to apply the marmalade and butter ( if you know what’s good for you, sir).

      The second most annoying aspect of this ‘culture’ is their obsession with cricket and ‘high rankers’ of both industry and the regulators are peculiarly drawn to serve upon the boards of this game. Frequently, comparison between ‘business’ and ‘cricket’ is made by referencing the enduring positive attributes of cricket; fair play, honour, acceptance of the umpire’s decision, teamwork and competent leadership.
      It’s as if talking about and being close to and publically venerating these ideals will somehow excuse and forgive their abdication of duty and lessen their personal sense of failure and hypocrisy that we all know any ‘sellout’ will always try and rationalise.

  4. “What a shame more Australian regulators aren’t hated by business.”

    In my experience most regulators are hated by business.

  5. I think everyone is missing the biggest regulator being the ATO. I mean, has anyone actually been audited either as a business or even as an individual? The same list of grievances from the corporates about the ACCC is a carbon copy of those everyone has with the ATO. And yes, I mean everyone.
    A agree a regulator is there to regulate or as is the case with the ATO to regulate and also to collect revenue, but why does it have to be done in a climate of aggression which is detrimental to the corporate/person under investigation? With the ATO, business often just rolls over because it’s cheaper than fighting issues rather than argue the case. Even when the business is right it is a costly exercise. I’m sure there are guilty corporates but I’m sure there are also innocent corporates who get caught up in the process too.
    I don’t know the answer, but I do know that regulators have a habit of going after low hanging fruit first because the really big operators can afford to defend their patch. So are the mid sized corporates being over regulated whereas the biggies are getting away with the rorts? If the ACCC was as effective as this report alludes to then why do we continually get information about the bad behaviour of big corporates or why can’t the ATO collect the tax owed by people like RIO, Apple and Google? A cynic might say that this huffing from the corporates is to give the impression that regulators have them on the run. The evidence we have is that this is far from the case. More obfuscation maybe? Some data would be handy.

  6. ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

    What we need is more politicians “hated” by big business,…and the best way to achieve that, is for elected representatives to start advocating for the members of their electorates, instead of sucking the coporate dick for future career advancement and opportunities.

    • After what was done to Rudd, who would risk it? Business will not only destroy your career, they’ll make an entire country hate you on a personal level. Doesn’t matter how blatant the ad campaign is either. Only a martyr is going to sign up to be public enemy #1 to help the very people who would spit on you after the inevitable campaign.