The Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) is urging the Government to move forward with the Harper Review and get on with the job of competition policy reform.

“Australia is in desperate need for competition reform to ensure we have a healthy and effective competitive market and in particular, address the need to protect the competitive process so that small and medium-sized enterprises can compete on a more level playing field,” said IPA chief executive, Andrew Conway.

“Reform means more than just tax reform, which of course is also essential for our economy; it is about healthy competition and the Harper Review has provided a framework for Australia to move forward – so let’s get on with it.

“Key areas of current policy to be addressed include unconscionable conduct and section 46 of the Competition and Consumer Act.  Section 46 needs an overhaul to strengthen the prohibition on firms using their market power to substantially lessen competition; including the removal of the ‘take advantage’ element from the existing prohibition.

“In essence, section 46 needs to be amended with an appropriate 'effects test'.

“These recommendations form part of our Australian Small Business White Paper.

“There are other areas to be addressed for effective competition policy reform such as small business access to remedies, collective bargaining and competitive neutrality.  The IPA supports a strengthened ACCC to implement the changes.

“We need to ensure a fair and level playing field for small business that encourages innovation and growth of the SME sector,” said Mr Conway.