New ombudsman to push for market power law changes

REGIONAL small businesses have a new advocate in their push for changes to "misuse of market power" provisions of the Trade Practices Act.

Assistant Treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer on Monday announced former supermarket lobbyist Kate Carnell would be the nation's first Small and Family Enterprise Ombudsman.

Ms Carnell will work with small businesses to avoid costly legal cases in disputes with other firms and employees.

But she told APN she would also use the position to advocate "inside the tent" for changes to the market power laws, which Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims has urged be reformed.

Ms Carnell said that, similar to Mr Sims, she would be arguing for stronger protections for small businesses as the current misuse test depended on prosecutors proving big firms had "intent" to misuse their market power.

"This shouldn't been seen as big business versus small, but rather a competition issue, that without change, big firms that do intend on misusing their power are competing fairly," she said.

"It will certainly be one of the top issues I will be pushing the government to change.

"The government recently held some roundtables on competition policy, but hasn't yet announced its intentions on these laws."


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