The Cambridge Handbook of the Social Sciences in Australia

By Ian McAllister; Steve Dowrick et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 2
Competition Policy and
Regulation
Stephen P. King

Background

In 1993 the Independent Committee of Inquiry on National Competition Policy released its final report (Hilmer 1993).The report and subsequent government policies led to a wave of Australian economic research on competition policy and regulation.This chapter surveys that research.

For many types of markets, economists view competitive conduct as desirable.When consumers can choose between actively competing suppliers, those suppliers can only profit by producing high-quality products that satisfy consumers' needs, using costefficient production, and then selling these products at prices that match or undercut their competitors. Competition leads to a socially desirable mix of goods and services being produced efficiently and sold to those consumers who most value the products. In economic parlance, competition promotes technical, productive and allocative efficiency.

Competition need not be desirable in all circumstances and need not naturally arise in markets. Competition policy and regulation involves laws, rules and institutional structures that deal with firms' behaviour in markets where competition is either limited or absent.

The Trade Practices Act 1974 is Australia's pre-eminent legislative instrument for dealing with competition issues. 1 First enacted in August 1974, the act replaced earlier ineffective laws.The act covers consumer protection and competition laws.

The Independent Committee of Inquiry on National Competition Policy (the Hilmer Committee) was established by the Keating Labor government in 1992, primarily to review the competition provisions of the Trade Practices Act.The inquiry followed so-called microeconomic reform and deregulation in the financial sector and airlines (Forsyth 1992a; Quiggin 1996), and the political and economic forces underlying this reform also motivated the Hilmer inquiry.

One motivation was the perceived poor performance of the Australian economy.The Industry Commission (1990) argued that Australia's productivity growth in the late 1980s was low compared to other OECD countries. It estimated that reforms in transport, utilities and industry assistance could lead to a 6.5 per cent increase in real GDP in the

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The Cambridge Handbook of the Social Sciences in Australia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Figures and Tables vii
  • Contributors x
  • Preface and Acknowledgements xviii
  • Introduction 1
  • References 13
  • Part 1 - Economics 15
  • Chapter 1 - Privatisation 17
  • References 27
  • Chapter 2 - Competition Policy and Regulation 31
  • References 40
  • Chapter 3 - Economics and the Environment 45
  • References 57
  • Chapter 4 - Health Economics 60
  • References 70
  • Chapter 5 - Immigration 74
  • References 87
  • Chapter 6 - Labour Market and Industrial Relations 94
  • References 113
  • Chapter 7 - Income Distribution and Redistribution 118
  • References 134
  • Chapter 8 - Taxation 138
  • References 148
  • Chapter 9 - Innovation 153
  • References 165
  • Chapter 10 - International Trade and Industry Policies 168
  • References 180
  • Chapter 11 - The Macro Economy 186
  • Notes 199
  • References 200
  • Chapter 12 - Money and Banking 203
  • References 216
  • Part 2 - Political Science 221
  • Chapter 13 - Political Theory 223
  • References 231
  • Chapter 14 - Federalism and the Constitution 234
  • References 246
  • Chapter 15 - Legislative Institutions 249
  • References 260
  • Chapter 16 - Political Parties and Electoral Behaviour 266
  • References 283
  • Chapter 17 - Electoral Systems 287
  • References 302
  • Chapter 18 - Gender Politics 305
  • References 319
  • Chapter 19 - Interest Groups and Social Movements 323
  • References 339
  • Chapter 20 - Environmental Policy and Politics 345
  • References 355
  • Chapter 21 - International Relations 358
  • Notes 368
  • References 369
  • Chapter 22 - Political Economy 374
  • References 391
  • Chapter 23 - Public Policy and Public Administration 406
  • References 422
  • Part 3 - Sociology 431
  • Chapter 24 - Patterns of Social Inequality 433
  • References 457
  • Chapter 25 - Families and Households 462
  • References 477
  • Chapter 26 - Gender Perspectives 480
  • References 493
  • Chapter 27 - Work and Employment 499
  • Notes 511
  • References 512
  • Chapter 28 - Crime and Deviance 518
  • References 531
  • Chapter 29 - Health and Illness 536
  • References 552
  • Chapter 30 - Population 554
  • References 569
  • Chapter 31 - Race, Ethnicity and Immigration 573
  • Notes 585
  • References 586
  • Chapter 32 - Urban and Regional Sociology 590
  • Reference 598
  • Chapter 33 - Rural Sociology 604
  • Reference 619
  • Chapter 34 - Religion and Spirituality 626
  • Reference 632
  • Chapter 35 - Cultural Studies, Australian Studies and Cultural Sociology 638
  • References 651
  • Chapter 36 - Sociological Theory 654
  • References 664
  • Chapter 37 - Social Policy and Social Welfare 666
  • References 674
  • Author Index 678
  • Subject Index 696
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