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The Competition Policy Reform Bill applies the competition code in the ACT. It does so in concert with the Commonwealth Act, which effectively creates the competition code but does not itself apply the code. The competition code extends coverage of Part IV of the Trade Practices Act to government business activity in the ACT. Members will note that coverage of Part IV of the Trade Practices Act does not apply to activities associated with the normal functions of government. Part IV of the Trade Practices Act prohibits anti-competitive conduct such as exclusive dealing, misuse of market power, and anti-competitive agreements. Extension of the Trade Practices Act to government business activity will require all government business activities to be reviewed to reform any elements of their business that restrict competition. However, the Government will have the capacity to authorise anti-competitive conduct by legislation where it is clearly in the public interest. Provision to restrict competition is currently available to business under subsection 51(1) of the Trade Practices Act. Any exemptions to the general conduct rules are permitted only when a clear public benefit can be demonstrated through a transparent process.

The benefits of the Competition Policy Reform Bill will take time to work through to all levels of business activity. Early passage of the legislation will assist the process of reviewing government business activity to ensure that it does not contravene Part IV of the Trade Practices Act. Implementation of competition policy in the ACT provides additional impetus to the Government's own comprehensive reform program. We are already working on implementing the reforms, which include reviewing regulation and legislation affecting competition; and implementation of our corporatisation program. Also, as part of the development of the 1995 budget, I have asked all agency heads to consider options for outsourcing. The Government is committed to directing scarce resources to the core functions of government which deliver services to the community. This Bill provides the vehicle for eliminating anti-competitive practices from government business activity. This will benefit the community and the private sector and improve the public sector.

Debate (on motion by Mr Wood) adjourned.


MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General and Minister for the Environment, Land and Planning) (10.36): Mr Speaker, I present the Nature Conservation (Amendment) Bill 1995, together with its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.


That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

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