ACCC announces 2018 priorities

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced its compliance and enforcement priorities for 2018.

Among the many concerns, the ACCC will hone in on consumer issues in car retailing, broadband services, agriculture and energy as well competition in the financial services and commercial construction sector. Also in focus is systemic issues with consumer guarantee rights and competition and consumer issues with digital platforms, algorithms and consumer data.

Addressing energy affordability will be a top priority, with recommendations for reform to be provided in a final report at the end of June 2018.

Consumer issues in broadband services have been of highlight in the past two years, in particular, misleading speed claims and statements made during the transition to NBN. The ACCC’s Measuring Broadband Australia program will be introduced shortly to help Australians choose a service provider.

To tackle issues in the financial services sector, the ACCC has established a Financial Services Unit to identify and investigate competition issues in the sector after 1 July 2018. An interim report on residential mortgage pricing is due for release shortly. A key focus is on transparency and how the major banks balance consumer and shareholder interests in making their interest rate decisions.

Digital platforms are also in the spotlight with the ACCC’s inquiry into the influence of such platforms and their implications. The ACCC will address how much consumers know about the amount and use of data that is collected and sold by the digital platforms in the form of advertising.

Competition and consumer law issues in the agriculture sector are in focus, with attention on the dairy inquiry, enforcement of the Horticulture Code of Conduct and analysis of the viticulture industry.

The ACCC will continue to regard the following areas as high priority: cartel conduct, anti-competitive conduct, product safety, vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers, and conduct impacting Indigenous Australians.