The Regulator Report lists recent changes, decisions and developments at the main New Zealand and Australian corporate, commercial and competition regulatory bodies. This edition of the Regulator Report covers the period from 3 July 2009 to 27 July 2009.

The Treasury

Regulatory review update
Finance Minister Bill English has issued a press release (23 July 2009) outlining the current status of a number of regulatory reviews. Mr English notes that under the overseas investment review (announced earlier this year) steps have already been taken to simplify the overseas investment regime, which include delegating greater decision-making powers to the Overseas Investment Office (under the April Designation and Delegation Letter) and expanding the scope of some existing exemptions from the regime and adding some new ones (under the Overseas Investment Amendment Regulations 2009). In the next few weeks the government will consider the second part of the review, aimed at improving three main areas of the Overseas Investment Act. Issues noted include:

  • whether the thresholds determining which land and business investments are screened are set at the right level;
  • providing greater certainty for investors, by removing the ability to substantially change overseas investment rules during applications;
  • simplifying the screening of investments in sensitive land, while ensuring that overseas investors are subject to a higher standard than domestic investors; and
  • whether the previous government's strategic asset test should be removed.

The update also notes that the Technical Advisory Group established to review the electricity sector is in the process of finalising a discussion document to be considered by Cabinet in coming weeks.

Other areas noted in the press release include the finalisation of a discussion document on a review of the Securities Act 1978 (to be finalised later this year) and a review of financial market regulation (in the next 18 months).

Click here to read the full press release
Click here to read Bell Gully partner Garry Down's "Wish list for electricity market reform"
Click here to read Bell Gully partner David Boswell's recent commentary on the current overseas investment review

Ministers take single market forward, sign up to trans-Tasman retirement savings portability
Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan and New Zealand Finance Minister Bill English signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a trans-Tasman retirement savings portability scheme on 16 July 2009. This will enable Australians and New Zealanders to transfer their retirement savings across the Tasman when they move.
Click here for more

Government considers local body 'bond bank'
The government is working with local body representatives to investigate setting up a "bond bank" to help councils finance up to $30 billion of planned infrastructure over the next decade.
Click here for more

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand

Bank interest rate margins
The Reserve Bank has released an analysis of interest rate margins in response to a number of questions it received about its stance on what room there still is for interest rate cuts.
Click here to read the report

Non-bank risk management guidelines
The Reserve Bank has released its risk management programme guidelines for non-bank deposit takers. Deposit taking finance companies, building societies and credit unions are required to have a risk management programme from 1 September 2009. The programme needs to show how they will identify and manage credit risk, liquidity risk, market risk and operational risks, appropriate to each institution's particular circumstances.
Click here to view the guidelines and copies of the submissions received on the draft guidelines released in June

Ministry of Economic Development (MED)

Financial services law reform - how will this affect your business?
Bell Gully's Financial Services Team has prepared a guide to assist with navigating the new financial services legislation (the Financial Advisers Act 2008, the Financial Service Providers (Registration and Dispute Resolution) Act 2008 and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Amendment Act 2008) that will substantially reshape the regulatory landscape for financial service providers. Most of the legislation will come into effect over the course of 2010. However, given the lead-in work required to address some of the new compliance obligations, it is important to consider the impact of this legislation now.

For details of the current projects and consultations underway for the implementation of the legislation see the 2 July 2009 issue of Regulator Report.

Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Bill
Public submissions are now being invited on the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Bill (see our earlier commentary in the last issue of Regulator Report). The closing date for submissions is 6 August 2009.
Click here for more

Securities Disclosure and Financial Advisers Amendment Bills passed
The Securities Disclosure and Financial Advisers Amendment Bill has completed its passage through Parliament. After consideration by the whole of the House Committee, the omnibus bill was divided into two: the Securities (Disclosure) Amendment Bill and the Financial Advisers Amendment Bill under SOP No. 29), with some further minor amendments (under SOP No. 30). The Securities (Disclosure) Amendment Bill was amended to clarify that offers of securities that are made under the "eligible persons regime" in section 5(2CB)(a) of the Securities Act 1978 or under bundled offers to both eligible persons and "private" persons (specified in section 3(2)) under new section 5(2CBA) of the Act can also be made to persons outside New Zealand at the same time. Minor clarifications have also been made in relation to delayed allotment orders by the Securities Commission under the new simplified disclosure prospectus (SDP) regime in recognition of the fact that, depending on the nature of the securities concerned, information may be adverse to a scheme rather than to an issuer.

Some further typographical errors in the Financial Advisers Act 2008 have been corrected in two new amending clauses inserted in the Financial Advisers Amendment Bill.

Both bills are currently awaiting Royal assent. It should be noted that the regulations required to give effect to the core provisions of the Securities (Disclosure) Amendment Bill, namely the introduction of the SDP regime to the Securities Act, also need to be implemented.
Click here to read the press release
Click here to read the Bell Gully article "Securities law changes passed: details on simplified disclosure prospectus to come"

Section 92A proposal released for consultation
A proposal document for the review of section 92A of the Copyright Act 1994 and how to deal with repeat internet copyright infringement has been released for public feedback by Commerce Minister Simon Power. The proposal attempts to address internet user, rights holders and internet service provider (ISP) concerns that have previously been raised about section 92A. The new proposed procedure outlined in the document provides a three-phase course of action for pursuing online copyright infringers and gives the Copyright Tribunal exclusive jurisdiction over matters covered by section 92A. In brief, the process involves:

  1. The rights holder making a complaint to the ISP (which would be required to notify its user) in the case of a suspected initial infringement. If there was a further infringement, a cease-and-desist order would be sent to the user.
  2. If these initial steps did not achieve a positive outcome, the rights holder would be entitled to apply to the Copyright Tribunal for an order to obtain the user's name and contact details.
  3. The rights holder would then be able to serve an infringement notice on the user who could elect to take the matter to mediation. If that failed, or there was no response, the Copyright Tribunal would convene, with the power to impose penalties ranging from fines to termination of the user's internet account.

The deadline for submissions on the proposal document is 7 August 2009.
Click here for more

Cabinet paper on the policy review of New Zealand's approach to clearing and settlement
MED has released the Cabinet paper reporting back to the Cabinet Economic Growth and Infrastructure Committee on recommendations arising from a policy review of New Zealand's approach to clearing and settlement. Consultation on an exposure draft of the Settlement Systems, Futures, and Emissions Units Bill (introduced in September 2008) revealed concerns about the provision of settlement services and how these systems are expected to develop in future. In response to these concerns, Cabinet invited the Minister of Commerce to review broader issues around New Zealand's approach to the clearing and settlement of securities outside the bill's scope. The key conclusions in the Cabinet paper are:

  • New Zealand is not alone in facing policy decisions about the development of its institutional arrangements for settlement services. There are advantages and disadvantages to any configuration of the market for settlement services; any choice involves trade-offs between costs, innovation, and stability.
  • Market participants should determine arrangements for clearing and settlement within the regulatory framework protecting the national interest.
  • There is currently no general case for the government to institute new measures within the context of New Zealand's current clearing and settlement services.
  • Market developments can be dealt with by existing competition law and other statutory processes should a need arise.

Click here for more

New Search and Surveillance Bill introduced
The National-led government has introduced a new Search and Surveillance Bill 2009 which supersedes the Search and Surveillance Powers Bill introduced by the previous government last year. Justice Minister Simon Power says the government identified some deficiencies in the 2008 bill, and the new version introduces much-needed reforms. Search and surveillance powers allow police and other law enforcement agencies to gather evidential material that is often crucial to the successful investigation and prosecution of offences.
Click here for the full press release
Click here to access a copy of the Bill
Click here for Bell Gully commentary on the proposed search and surveillance powers

Companies Office

Clegg & Co Finance directors prosecuted
The Companies Office has laid criminal charges in the Auckland District Court against Brian Samuel Clegg and Pamela Nicolson-Clegg, directors of failed finance company Clegg & Co Finance Limited, which is now in receivership. The charges against both directors relate to statements in the company's 2005 and 2006 prospectuses (under section 58 of the Securities Act 1978) and statements made to the company's Trustee (under section 377 of the Companies Act 1993). Brian Clegg faces a separate charge (under section 59A of the Securities Act) in relation to misleading or deceiving the Securities Commission.
Click here for further details

Securities Commission

Committee appointed to set competence standards for financial advisers
A 10-member committee has been appointed to develop competence standards for financial advisers. Announcing the appointments, Commissioner for Financial Advisers Annabel Cotton says she is delighted to see such a high-calibre group of New Zealanders committed to making the financial adviser industry more professional. The independent committee will develop the code of conduct that financial advisers will be legally obliged to comply with from late 2010.
Click here for the full press release

Commission statement on PLUS SMS Holdings Limited
Recent events concerning Plus SMS have prompted the Securities Commission to issue a press release relating to its earlier investigation of disclosures by Plus SMS from October 2005 to September 2006, and trading in shares of Plus SMS in this period.
Click here for the full press release

SECURITIES ACT EXEMPTION NOTICES

The following Securities Act Exemption Notices have been published for this period:

Securities Act (Employer Superannuation Schemes) Exemption Amendment Notice 2009
This notice, which came into force on 23 July 2009, renews for a further five years the Securities Act (Employer Superannuation Schemes) Exemption Notice 2004. This notice also tidies clause 10 of that notice, part of which expired in October 2004.

Securities Act (Kingdom Resources Trust) Exemption Notice 2009
This notice came into force on 17 July 2009 and expires on the close of 30 November 2012. It exempts The Kingdom Resources Trust, subject to conditions, from provisions of the Securities Act 1978 and the Securities Regulations 1983 in connection with the issue of debt securities.

The exemptions and the conditions on which they are granted are similar to those contained in the Securities Act (Charitable and Religious Purposes) Exemption Notice 2003 (the class notice) and the previous exemptions granted to the trust under the Securities Act (Kingdom Resources Trust) Exemption Notice 2003 (which expired on 30 September 2008).

Securities Act (Neuren Pharmaceuticals Limited) Exemption Amendment Notice 2009
This notice, which came into force on 16 July 2009, amends the Securities Act (Neuren Pharmaceuticals Limited) Exemption Notice 2006 by increasing the maximum value of equity securities that can be offered by Neuren Pharmaceuticals to each security holder under a share purchase plan from A$5,000 to A$15,000.

Securities Act (Industrial and Provident Societies) Exemption Amendment Notice 2009
This notice, which came into force on 10 July 2009, amends the Securities Act (Industrial and Provident Societies) Exemption Notice 2002 (the principal notice) to name Canterbury Education Services Society Limited as a society to which that notice applies. This means that Canterbury Education Services will be exempted from certain provisions of the Securities Act 1978 and the Securities Regulations 1983 in respect of specified debt securities and specified participatory securities (as those terms are defined in the principal notice).

Securities Act (Macquarie Investment Services Limited Gilt Edge Access Account) Exemption Notice 2009
This notice, which came into force on 2 July 2009 and expires on 30 June 2014, replaces the Securities Act (Macquarie Investment Services Limited Gilt Edge Access Account) Exemption Notice 1999, without substantive changes.

Securities Act (Wool Equities Limited) Exemption Notice 2009
This notice, which came into force on 3 July 2009 and expires on 31 March 2010, exempts Wool Equities Limited, subject to conditions, from sections 37A(1)(b) and (c) of the Securities Act 1978 in respect of the allotment of new shares to certain growers of non-merino wool.

SECURITIES MARKETS ACT EXEMPTION NOTICE

Under section 48(1)(d) of the Securities Markets Act 1988, the Securities Commission has issued the following notice:

Futures Contracts (Figure Eight Global Investors Limited) Exemption Notice 2009
This notice, which came into force on 24 July 2009 and expires on 31 July 2014, exempts Figure Eight Global Investors Limited (a dealer under the Futures Industry (Client Funds) Regulations 1990) from the following provisions of those regulations:

  • Regulation 3(1), which requires a dealer to establish and maintain one or more client bank accounts; and
  • Regulation 24, which requires a dealer to ensure that its client records are audited.

FINANCIAL REPORTING ACT EXEMPTION NOTICE

Under section 35A of the Financial Reporting Act 1993, the Securities Commission has issued the following notice:

Financial Reporting Act (Overseas Issuers) Exemption Amendment Notice 2009
This notice, which came into force on 24 July 2009, amends the Financial Reporting Act (Overseas Issuers) Exemption Notice 2009 (the principal notice).This notice exempts the directors of General Electric Company from various provisions of the Financial Reporting Act 1993 in relation to securities offered and allotted under its employee share purchase scheme. The exemptions are subject to conditions.

Takeovers Panel

Takeovers Panel releases decision on Knott voting for its Rubicon offer
The Takeovers Panel has published its decision arising from the meeting of the Panel which was held on 10 June 2009 to consider the implication of the voting of Rubicon shares owned by certain investment funds managed by Mr Knott. The Panel's decision involves the application of the Takeovers Code prohibition against misleading and deceptive conduct (new Rule 64) in relation to takeovers. The Panel's decision also provides some general commentary on Rule 10, new Rule 64 and the processes and procedures recommended to avoid the need for remedial action to be taken where those rules apply.
Click here for the full press release

TAKEOVERS CODE EXEMPTION NOTICE

The following Takeovers Code Exemption Notice has been published for this period:

Takeovers Code (Just Water International Limited) Exemption Notice 2009
This notice, grants retrospective exemptions from rule 6(1) of the Takeovers Code, subject to conditions, to:

  • Ian Malcolm in respect of allotments to him in Just Water International Limited (JWI) as payment in lieu of directors' fees between 2004 and 2007; and
  • Ian Malcolm, Pamela Malcolm and Barbara Astill as former trustees of the Malcolm Education and Lifestyle Trust in respect of an allotment to them of shares in JWI on 2 March 2006, as a result of the exercise of JWI options issued to Ian Malcolm and subsequently assigned by him to the allottees.

Other retrospective exemptions from rule 6(1) of the Takeovers Code given in this notice relate to transactions involving the Falkenstein Onehunga Business School Charitable Trust, the Falkenstein University of Auckland Business School Charitable Trust, the Falkenstein Unitec Business School Charitable Trust and the Falkenstein Onehunga Business School Charitable Trust.

The notice also grants exemptions from rule 6(1) of the Takeovers Code to Anthony Edwin Falkenstein, Desmond George Graydon, and the board of the Falkenstein AUT Charitable Trust, in respect of proposed acquisitions of voting securities in JWI occurring on or after 16 July 2009 which relate to the establishment of a charitable trust. The notice expires on 16 July 2014.

Electricity Commission

Submissions on model approach to distribution pricing
The Electricity Commission has released the submissions it received in response to its consultation paper on a draft proposed model approach to distribution pricing for New Zealand's 29 distributors.
Click here for details on the consultation paper
Click here to access the submissions

Australian Government

The National Consumer Credit Reform Package
The Rudd Government has introduced the National Consumer Credit Reform Package into Parliament. This is the first phase of the Council of Australian Governments' agreements of 2008 for the Commonwealth to assume responsibility for the regulation of consumer credit. Phase One of the Reform Package includes:

  • a comprehensive licensing regime for all providers of consumer credit and services;
  • responsible lending conduct requirements on licensees – not to provide credit products and services that are unsuitable for the consumer's needs and that the consumer does not have the capacity to repay;
  • improved sanctions and enhanced enforcement powers for the regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission;
  • expanded consumer protection through court arrangements, remedies for consumers and penalties for misconduct; and
  • an expanded scope for the National Credit Code to include credit provided to purchase, renovate, improve or refinance a residential investment property

Click here for further information

Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC)

Improving disclosure of securities lending
ASIC released a consultation on guidance for disclosure of substantial holdings arising from securities lending or prime broking on 3 July 2009. The consultation paper, Securities lending and substantial holding disclosure, seeks to improve disclosure of substantial holdings in practice and makes it clear that securities lending transactions and prime broking arrangements need to be taken into account in calculating a substantial holding. Submissions on the proposals contained in the consultation paper close on 7 August 2009.
Click here for more

ASIC consults on licensing requirements for credit licensees
ASIC released the first package of policy proposals on the implementation of the proposed National Consumer Credit regime on 15 July 2009. The release of the proposals is the first step in an extensive consultation process that ASIC will undertake over the coming months as it prepares to implement the National Credit Bill, which was introduced into the Australian Parliament last month.
Click here for more

ASIC review of 30 June 2009 financial reports
ASIC has highlighted a number of areas on which company boards and those responsible for the preparation of financial reports should focus in the upcoming reporting period. "It is important that directors and auditors continue to focus on specific areas most affected by the current economic conditions, such as going concern and valuation of assets," ASIC Commissioner Michael Dwyer said.
Click here for more

New Zealand Commerce Commission (NZCC)

Media releases

The NZCC has issued the following media releases:

Industry regulation and regulatory control

  • Guidelines on carbon claims and the Fair Trading Act released
    The NZCC has today released guidelines which inform businesses about their obligations surrounding carbon offset and neutrality claims and how they are affected by the Fair Trading Act. The guidelines will supplement the green marketing guidelines released by NZCC last year.
    Click here for more
  • Commerce Commission releases quarterly report on broadband quality
    The Epitiro/IDC report on New Zealand broadband quality for the March 2009 quarter has been released. It examines the quality of broadband services provided by New Zealand's internet service providers as measured by Epitiro from central sites using premium residential plans. The report is designed to provide New Zealand consumers, businesses and industry observers with independent measurements of the changes in the quality of broadband services over time.
    Click here for more
  • Commerce Commission consults on 'failing firms' guidelines
    The NZCC has released draft supplementary guidelines on how merger and acquisitions applications involving the 'failing firm' argument will be treated. While the NZCC's current Mergers and Acquisitions Guidelines outline a general approach to assessing arguments of failing firms in the clearance context, the NZCC considers that it is timely to provide more specific guidance on what information should be provided in an application involving a failing firm argument.
    Click here for more

Mergers and acquisitions

  • Fullers Group cleared to acquire 360 Discovery
    The NZCC has granted clearance for Fullers Group Limited to acquire most of the assets of the business called 360 Discovery operated by Kiwi Kat Limited. NZCC Chair Mark Berry said the NZCC was satisfied that the proposed acquisition will not have, or would not be likely to have, the effect of substantially lessening competition in any of the relevant markets.
    Click here for more
  • Frucor applies for clearance to acquire Simply Squeezed
    The NZCC has received an application from Frucor Beverages Ltd seeking clearance to acquire Simply Squeezed Holdings Ltd. Frucor, owned by Japan's Suntory Holdings Ltd, supplies a range of non-alcoholic beverages in New Zealand including the V, Arano, Fresh Up, Just Juice, McCoy and Citrus Tree brands. Simply Squeezed, which is owned by Crescent Food Group Pty Ltd, manufactures the Simply Squeezed, Supreme Country, Bay Harvest and Allganics brand fruit beverages.
    Click here for more
    Statement of preliminary issues

Telecommunications

  • Commerce Commission releases draft recommendation to regulate mobile termination prices
    The NZCC has released its draft report recommending that the mobile termination prices should be regulated. The NZCC also recommended that the undertakings submitted in lieu of regulation by Vodafone, Telecom and 2degrees should be rejected. The NZCC's preliminary finding, which is now subject to consultation, is that mobile termination charges are currently significantly above cost. The NZCC's draft report recommends regulation of the wholesale rates that telecommunications companies charge each other, rather than the price that consumers directly pay for mobile services.
    Click here for more
  • Commerce Commission to commence mobile roaming investigation
    The NZCC has announced that it intends to commence a Schedule 3 investigation into whether regulation of the national mobile roaming service should be extended to include price. The NZCC considers that the prices contained in current commercial roaming agreements may be significantly above cost. The NZCC also has a number of other concerns regarding national roaming, and the mobile market in general, which suggest that an investigation may be appropriate. These concerns include the ability of future potential market entrants to negotiate competitive agreements in a timely manner.
    Click here for more

Consumer issues

  • Commerce Commission takes action against juice company
    The NZCC has concluded an investigation into the promotion and labelling of juice products by Brownlie Brothers Limited trading as Simply Squeezed, a juice manufacturing and distribution company. As a result, the NZCC will prosecute Brownlie Brothers Limited trading as Simply Squeezed for alleged contraventions of the Fair Trading Act in relation to a television advertising campaign that ran from March to May 2008 for its Simply Squeezed Chilled Orange Juice.
    Click here for more
  • Yan fruit 'juice' products voluntarily recalled
    A distributor of a range of imported products marketed as fruit juice has agreed to recall all its products after tests as part of a NZCC investigation found that at least two had inaccurate labels. Testing at an independent laboratory showed that the products which claimed to be 100% blackcurrant juice and 100% peach juice contained little or no traces of fruit of any kind, let alone the fruit that was claimed on the labels.
    Click here for more
  • Court confirms Wings and Wheels funds held on trust
    A judge in the Auckland High Court confirmed yesterday that the money paid for tickets to the postponed airshow Wings and Wheels over Waikato was being held on trust by the airshow's organisers and that the money should be used to pay refunds to entitled ticket holders. This clears the way to begin a process to refund eligible ticket holders.
    Click here for more
  • Op shop operator ordered to pay reparation for Fair Trading breach
    A Palmerston North man has pleaded guilty to breaching the Fair Trading Act by misleading consumers about the nature of a charity shop through advertising that all proceeds from sales at the shop went to Women's Refuge. A NZCC investigation found that less than 10% of the shop's profits were in fact distributed to Women's Refuge. He was ordered by the Palmerston District Court to pay $10,000 in reparation to two women's refuges.
    Click here for more

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)

ACCC media releases

The ACCC has issued the following media releases:

Mergers and acquisitions

  • ACCC allows chicken processing merger after sale of Victorian assets
    The ACCC will not oppose the proposed acquisition of Bartter by Baiada Poultry after competition concerns were resolved by Baiada's undertaking to sell certain Victorian assets to competitor La Ionica Poultry. The ACCC has accepted the undertaking on the basis that the divestiture of Bartter's Victorian assets to La Ionica Poultry will result in a significant expansion of La Ionica Poultry's current chicken processing capabilities.
    Click here for more
  • ACCC won't oppose FoodWorks proposed supermarkets, liquor stores acquisition
    The ACCC will not oppose the proposed acquisition of 45 supermarkets and eight adjoining liquor stores from Wesfarmers Limited, by Australian United Retailers Ltd (trading as FoodWorks). The ACCC concluded that the proposed acquisition would be unlikely to result in a substantial lessening of competition in the relevant supermarket and liquor retail markets and in the relevant wholesale and procurement markets.
    Click here for more

Market behaviour

  • TAB agents allowed to collectively bargain with Tabcorp
    The ACCC has granted authorisation to the TAB Agents' Association of New South Wales to collectively bargain on behalf of its members with Tabcorp Holdings Limited, saying this may have likely benefits for consumers.
    Click here for more
  • Proceedings against south east Queensland truck retailers
    The ACCC has instituted civil proceedings in the Brisbane Federal Court against Vanderfield Pty Ltd, Sci-Fleet Motors Pty Ltd and three individuals for alleged price fixing and market sharing in the sale of trucks. The ACCC is seeking court orders including declarations, injunctions and pecuniary penalties against the two companies and the three individuals.
    Click here for more
  • Proposal to allow continuation of Otway joint marketing arrangements for the sale of LPG
    The ACCC proposes to allow energy companies Woodside Energy and Benaris International to continue to cooperate in selling LPG from Victoria's Otway Basin for another three years. Under the ACCC's proposed decision Woodside and Benaris will be able to agree on the common terms and conditions, including price, upon which LPG produced by the Otway gas project for and on behalf of Woodside and Benaris will be jointly marketed and sold.
    Click here for more
  • Warning of jail for cartel conduct
    Serious cartel conduct will be viewed by the ACCC after 24 July 2009 as criminal and will consequently expose company executives to jail terms of up to 10 years. Under the new law, serious offenders would be jailed and, in addition, potentially face a fine and be banned from being a company director or company manager for life. A business could be subject to fines of up to $10 million, or three times gain, or 10% group turnover – whichever was the highest.
    Click here for more
    Read Bell Gully's article on this topic "Advance Australia fear - jail for cartel conduct"

  • Never a better time to stop cartel conduct: ACCC
    The ACCC has issued guidelines on how it will approach its investigation of cartels following amendments to the law introducing criminal sanctions for serious cartel conduct. The release coincides with the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions setting out how the ACCC and CDPP will work together on the prosecution of cartel offences.
    Click here for more
  • Proposal to allow industry levy on bricks and masonry products
    The ACCC proposes to allow the continuation of an industry agreement that imposes a levy on the sale of clay bricks and concrete masonry products. The levies are used to fund a national programme designed to alleviate shortages of skilled bricklayers.
    Click here for more
  • ACCC allows newsagents to collectively bargain
    The ACCC has granted conditional authorisation to the Australian Newsagents' Federation to collectively bargain on behalf of its members with certain magazine and newspaper publishers and distributors. Authorisation has been granted for five years.
    Click here for more
  • ACCC proposes to approve SuperTAB pool arrangements
    The ACCC proposes to approve the continuing participation of ACTTAB Limited and Racing and Wagering Western Australia (RWWA) in the SuperTAB pool operated by Tabcorp. Tabcorp, ACTTAB and RWWA are the licensed totalisator in their respective jurisdictions. ACTTAB and RWWA are currently offering pari-mutuel wagering products through the SuperTAB pool under an interim authorisation granted by the ACCC.
    Click here for more
  • Retail gas market rules set to continue in SA and WA
    The ACCC proposes to allow Retail Energy Market Company (REMCo) to continue to operate the Retail Market Rules in South Australia and Western Australia. REMCo's application for authorisation relates to two chapters of the Retail Market Rules. The ACCC proposes to grant authorisation for a further 10 years.
    Click here for more
  • Phase-in of long term solution to Hunter Valley coal chain constraints approved
    The ACCC will grant conditional interim authorisation to Port Waratah Coal Services, the Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group and the Newcastle Port Corporation to begin the phased implementation of arrangements to provide a long-term solution to continuing capacity constraints in the Hunter Valley coal chain.
    Click here for more
  • Proposal to allow union to represent milk vendors in distribution-contract negotiations
    The ACCC proposes to allow the Transport Workers Union of Australia SA/NT Branch to represent South Australian milk vendors in contract negotiations with dairy processors National Foods and Parmalat. Under the ACCC's proposed decision, the TWU would bargain collectively on behalf of vendors. The vendors buy milk from the processors to sell to shops and home-delivery customers or deliver it to major retailers, such as supermarket chains, for a fee from the processors.
    Click here for more

Telecommunications

  • ACCC confirms five year extension for key telco declarations
    The ACCC has announced it will extend the declarations that enable Telstra's competitors to provide fixed voice and broadband services over Telstra's copper network for a further five years. The ACCC's decision to extend the declarations will ensure consumers continue to reap the benefits of price and service competition in the sector.
    Click here for more

Consumer issues

  • Furniture retailer apologises for confusing consumers
    Furniture and bedding retailer Super A-Mart has been forced to apologise for potentially misleading consumers. The apology follows an ACCC investigation into advertisements run in January, September and October 2007. The ACCC was concerned that Super A-Mart's conduct may be misleading or deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive.
    Click here for more
  • Hewlett-Packard changes cash-back processes after ACCC action
    Hewlett-Packard Australia Pty Ltd has implemented new claims processing and complaint handling mechanisms after the ACCC raised concerns about the company's cash back and gift promotions. The ACCC received more than 190 complaints about Hewlett-Packard's cash back and gift promotions over the past year, primarily related to the sale of personal computers and printers. The ACCC raised its concerns with Hewlett-Packard in late 2008. Hewlett-Packard cooperated fully and has worked with the ACCC to resolve the issues.
    Click here for more
  • ACCC institutes proceedings against online retailer for alleged misleading, deceptive conduct
    The ACCC has instituted legal proceedings in the Federal Court, Sydney against Ozdirect Online Brands Pty Ltd, and its director Paul Albright, for alleged contraventions of the Trade Practices Act 1974. The ACCC alleges that Ozdirect accepted payment from consumers for goods it knew, or ought reasonably to have known, it would not be able to supply within a reasonable time, and that it made misrepresentations to consumers, about the availability and likely delivery times of items and also, consumer warranty and refund rights.
    Click here for more
  • ACCC institutes proceedings against Personalised Chocolates franchisor, director
    The ACCC has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court, Sydney against Personalised Chocolates 4U Pty Ltd and its sole director, Troy Patching, for alleged contraventions of the Trade Practices Act 1974. The ACCC has alleged that PC4U marketed and sold personalised chocolate franchises by making false, misleading and deceptive representations.
    Click here for more
  • Mortein fixes bugs in its Made in Australia labelling
    After an investigation by the ACCC, multinational consumer goods manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser will remedy false Made in Australia labelling claims made on one of its Mortein insect control products. Reckitt Benckiser reacted promptly, admitting that the Made in Australia claims were false.The product has been relabelled and the offending claim has been removed.
    Click here for more
  • ACCC review of 40 cent discount on fuel
    The ACCC has reviewed the recent three day fuel discount promotions offered by the major supermarkets to assess whether they fall foul of the Trade Practices Act 1974. The promotions – instigated by Coles and then followed by Woolworths – involved substantial discounts on fuel purchases. Under the promotions customers were offered discounts on fuel purchases of a maximum of 40 cents per litre if they spent up to $300 in a single transaction in Coles or Woolworths supermarkets during the three day period, July 13-15. ACCC Petrol Commissioner Joe Dimasi said: "After considering the Coles and Woolworths discount schemes we have formed the view that these one-off promotions do not breach the Trade Practices Act."
    Click here for more

The Bell Gully Regulator Report is designed to highlight certain New Zealand and Australian corporate, commercial and competition regulatory developments. The Bell Gully Regulator Report is not designed to be comprehensive and is necessarily brief and general in nature and is not intended to provide legal advice. You should seek professional legal advice before taking any action in relation to the matters dealt with in this publication. Bell Gully is not the author of any information received by clicking on the hypertext links and therefore is not responsible for their accuracy.