Trade Practices Amendment (Small Business Protection) Bill 2007 (Australia)

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In February 2007 the Australian Treasurer, Peter Costello, and the Minister for Small Business and Tourism, Fran Bailey, announced that they intended to introduce legislation "to strengthen the secondary boycott provisions of the Trade Practices Act 1974". The changes, they announced, would be designed toallow the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission "to bring representative actions on behalf of persons who have suffered, or are likely to suffer, loss or damage as a result of a breach of sections 45D and 45E of the TPA." [1]

While the announcement was bland and didn't reveal who the intended targets of such legal actions would be, Costello was more explicit when asked about the issue at a doorstop media conference. The amendments, he said, would allow the ACCC to take action "on behalf of all Australian farmers if somebody tries to boycott their wool." [2]

"An example of this has recently been the group which is trying to organise a boycott of Australian wool because it is protesting about mulesing. That of course would affect all Australian farmers. We are going to amend the law so that the ACCC can bring legal action on behalf of all Australian farmers against those that are trying to boycott their wool and boycott their wool on these spurious grounds. Mulesing is something that is done because otherwise sheep could suffer flystrike which would be more painful, which would be more exploitative, and to empower the ACCC to look after Australia's farmers against these groups is a benefit to all wool growers in Australia," he said. [3]

The Bill

On August 15, the Australian Treasurer Peter Costello introduced a bill titled the Trade Practices Amendment (Small Business Protection) Bill 2007.[4]

In introducing the bill, Costello explained that the bill "amends section 87 of the Trade Practices Act 1974 to allow the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to take legal action on behalf of persons who have suffered or are likely to suffer loss or damage as a result of unlawful secondary boycotts."

"A secondary boycott," Costello told the House of Representatives, "involves action by two or more people acting in concert, which prevents a third party, such as a potential customer or supplier, from dealing with or doing business with the target. The innocent third party, who has nothing to do with the dispute, which is the subject of the direct boycott, suffers loss or damage as a result of the boycott." [5]

Introducing the bill, Costello couched the necessity of the legislative change as being solely of benefit to small businesses. "It is important that we provide a strong disincentive for those people who would target, intimidate and bully small business by applying a secondary boycott to that business," he said. [6]

"This commitment is in recognition of not only the significant contribution small business makes to our economy, but also of the fact that the nearly two million Australian small businesses often lack the power and resources to take action when they experience unfair treatment," he added. [7]

Announcements By & Interviews With Costello & Bailey

Information About the Bill

Website: here

Senate Inquiry Into the Bill

External links

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  1. Peter Costello (Treasurer) and Fran Bailey, (Minister for Small Business & Tourism), "Government Amendments to the Trade Practices Act 1974 - ACCC Representative Actions Under the Secondary Boycott Provisions", Media Release, February 22, 2007.
  2. Peter Costello, "Amendments to Trade Practices Act, RBA, economy, GST, single desk arrangements", Doorstop Interview: Duxton Hotel, Perth, February 22, 2007.
  3. Peter Costello, "Amendments to Trade Practices Act, RBA, economy, GST, single desk arrangements", Doorstop Interview: Duxton Hotel, Perth, February 22, 2007.
  4. "Trade Practices Amendment (Small Business Protection) Bill 2007", Parliament of Australia, August 15, 2007.
  5. Peter Costello, "TRADE PRACTICES AMENDMENT (SMALL BUSINESS PROTECTION) BILL 2007: Second Reading", House of Representatives Hansard, August 15, 2007.
  6. Peter Costello, "TRADE PRACTICES AMENDMENT (SMALL BUSINESS PROTECTION) BILL 2007: Second Reading", House of Representatives Hansard, August 15, 2007.
  7. Peter Costello, "TRADE PRACTICES AMENDMENT (SMALL BUSINESS PROTECTION) BILL 2007: Second Reading", House of Representatives Hansard, August 15, 2007.