20 November 2023

Consultation on merger reform


Joint media release with
The Hon Andrew Leigh MP
Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury
Assistant Minister for Employment

The Albanese Government is reviewing merger rules and processes to ensure they support competitive markets, economic dynamism, and better outcomes for the Australian people.

As part of its review of the nation’s competition policy settings, the Government is today releasing a consultation paper on potential merger reform.

The consultation paper examines whether current merger rules and processes are fit for purpose, enabling beneficial mergers while addressing those that could be anti‑competitive.

Any changes to merger settings would be about delivering greater benefits to the economy and to consumers, and providing certainty to business. We want mergers to drive improvements in productivity, to put downward pressure on prices and to deliver more choice for Australians dealing with cost‑of‑living pressures.

Increasing economic concentration has emerged as a concern in many countries including Australia.

International evidence suggests current merger rules may be too permissive, allowing some mergers that don’t deliver benefits to consumers, workers and the wider economy.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has also raised concerns about Australia’s merger regime.

The consultation paper highlights a variety of potential changes around notifications of mergers, the test for whether a merger is likely to substantially lessen competition, and who makes the decision about the effect of the merger.

The paper includes potential reforms for feedback, including those proposed by the ACCC, and examples from other jurisdictions like the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

Submissions on the consultation paper will be open until 19 January 2023.

As well as receiving written submissions, the Competition Taskforce will be engaging with industry, consumer stakeholders and experts to gather a diversity of perspectives.

The expert advisory panel, made up of David Gonski, Kerry Schott, John Asker, Sharon Henrick, John Fingleton, Danielle Wood and Rod Sims, will assist the Taskforce in its recommendations to Government.

The Albanese Government is focused on tackling cost‑of‑living pressures now and laying the foundations for future growth. Making our economy more competitive is critical to both of these goals.