The Commerce Amendment Bill, introduced to Parliament in March, proposes a series of changes to the Commerce Act 1986. Key changes include:
Misuse of market power: In the Act, the current 'purpose based' prohibition does not allow a person to take advantage of a substantial degree of market power for an anticompetitive purpose, such as deterring a new entry to the market or harming competitors.
The Bill proposes amending the test for determining whether a person has taken advantage of market power to an 'effects' based' test that will be in line with Australia. This expands the scope of the prohibition to cover any conduct by a person with market power that has the purpose, effect, or likely effect, of substantially lessening competition in a market.
Repeal of safe harbours for intellectual property: The current legislation contains provisions that effectively provide special treatment for intellectual property rights. These provisions are repealed in the Bill, meaning intellectual property rights will be assessed under the new Act in the same manner as other property.
The purpose of these amendments is to strengthen the prohibition against misuse of market power and to make other changes to improve the functioning of the Act.