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Quotation for Today, Thursday 19 March

March 19, 2009

Those seeking to defang the commission know its powers are far from extraordinary in a global context. Indeed, even if they succeeded, they would find many of their transtasman ambitions quashed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. In terms of upholding the public benefit, it is far more ferocious than its local counterpart, as Air New Zealand discovered when it sought various relationships with Qantas.

Probably the reverse should apply, given the small size of this economy. Equally, the criticism of Paula Rebstock is unwarranted. If anything, it speaks volumes of her strong leadership and raising of the watchdog’s profile.

To say current competition law is a luxury that New Zealand cannot afford, as Mr David seems to, is to ignore the benefits that consumers have derived from it, whether in lower prices or better product quality. They would be the losers if the commission’s power was diluted. Dominant players in a market would be the winners. Life would also be easier for those who, in tough times, resort to the likes of price-fixing.

If conditions deteriorate badly, there may just be a case for temporarily relaxing some elements of competition law to help the corporate sector. But for now, the emphasis should be on a strong commission that is able to respond quickly, knowing that businesses are operating under heightened pressure. Hopefully, there will be no need to change that priority.

Closing paragraphs of NZ Herald Editorial Wednesday 18 March on the Commerce Commission and possible changes.

Adam agrees with the sentiments of the editorial it would be foolish to weaken the Commerce Commission.

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