15 February 2024

Improving competition by empowering consumers and small businesses


Joint media release with
Julie Collins MP
Minister for Small Business

Consumer and small business advocates will now have special powers to raise significant and systemic issues with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for investigation.

As part of its Better Competition election commitment, the Albanese Government is introducing legislation to establish a new designated complaints function within the ACCC.

Across a range of sectors – airlines, telecommunications, supermarkets – Australians have seen too many examples of consumers not getting a fair go. The same goes for small businesses – franchisees getting an unfair deal or cash flows suffering due to slow payments.

The new function will empower designated consumer and small business advocates to submit a complaint to the ACCC where they have evidence of a significant or systemic market issue affecting Australian consumers or small businesses.

Once a designated complaint is lodged, the ACCC will be required to consider and publicly respond to the complaint within 90 days. The ACCC must state what further action, if any, will be taken in response to the complaint.

I will invite applications from consumer and small business advocates interested in becoming a designated complainant. Further details about the application process, including when to apply, will be made available on the Treasury website in coming months.

It is expected that the first designated complaints will be able to be lodged with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission from July 2024.

Quote attributable to Minister for Small Business, Julie Collins:

“This is another example of the Albanese Labor Government backing small business and helping to level the playing field to support small businesses.

Small businesses work hard, and they deserve to be heard. We are fulfilling our commitment to give small businesses and their representatives better opportunities to have their concerns addressed quickly.

This comes on top of what we have already delivered to ensure fairness is front and centre for small businesses in 2024.”

Quote attributable to Assistant Member for Competition, Charities, Treasury and Employment, Andrew Leigh:

“Small business and consumer advocates have often raised problems of uncompetitive markets. This empowers them to raise significant or systemic problems with the ACCC – with a guarantee that the ACCC will consider the issue and respond.

“Competition is the consumer’s best friend. Whether it’s beer or ice cream, airlines or supermarkets, too many markets are excessively concentrated. A lack of competition means people pay higher prices, and experience slower productivity growth. Because monopolies tend to gouge the vulnerable, a lack of competition worsens inequality.

“This bill helps consumers and small businesses get a fair go, by ensuring significant and systemic issues raised by their advocates are responded to quickly by the ACCC.”