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Analysis and Comment (27)

Leaving a sour taste. Tesco struggles to find a value proposition. Leaving a sour taste. Tesco struggles to find a value proposition. StefZ

A wicked blueprint for tackling Tesco’s woes

Imagine taking over the reins of a firm which only a few years ago was regarded as one of the best run companies in the UK, but now routinely posted declining market share, moribund profits, and mounting…
With more private sector involvement in aged care, health and education, competitive neutrality will become more important than ever. With more private sector involvement in aged care, health and education, competitive neutrality will become more important than ever. Julian Smith/AAP

Government Inc: time to revisit competitive neutrality

A month after receiving the first round of submissions, the Harper review of competition policy is knuckling down to work. With around 300 submissions received to date, the range of issues raised is diverse…
With true market competition, universities will have a new purpose to fulfil. With true market competition, universities will have a new purpose to fulfil. mirsasha/Flickr

Pay up: the market forces about to hit universities

The debate about opening Australian universities to competition has so far been dominated by discussions about fees. While this is of particular interest to students whose education will receive a smaller…
The Competition Review is small business minister Bruce Billson’s baby; but the focus is now far wider. The Competition Review is small business minister Bruce Billson’s baby; but the focus is now far wider. AAP/Daniel Munoz

An ambitious agenda for Harper’s competition review

At last, the government’s Competition Policy Review’s terms of reference have been released, and the panel, with Ian Harper as chair, announced. The minister for small business, Bruce Billson – charged…
Qantas is poised to receive some form of government assistance, but will it act in the national interest? Qantas is poised to receive some form of government assistance, but will it act in the national interest? griffs0000/Flickr

Qantas can’t have it both ways on foreign ownership

The Federal Government appears ready to “throw a lifeline” to Qantas, which has been seeking a government-backed debt guarantee and a lifting of the 49% foreign ownership limit in the Qantas Sale Act…
Qantas management are weighing up available options to bring the troubled airline back to profitability. Qantas management are weighing up available options to bring the troubled airline back to profitability.

Cost-heavy Qantas must look beyond government bailout

Yesterday’s Qantas guidance of a first-half loss of up to A$300 million is a continuation of poor financial performance which began in 2009. It’s not since then that Qantas has delivered a return on equity…
One tough mudder. One tough mudder. The 621st Contingency Response Wing

Tough Mudder: a modern-day cheese rolling competition

Tough Mudder is an endurance foot race over 12 miles that belongs to a class of obstacle courses known as MOB, or mud, obstacles and beer, that have seen an explosion in popularity since 2010. They include…
A new grocery code of conduct provides new rules for a sector subject to price wars, but will not solve all market problems. A new grocery code of conduct provides new rules for a sector subject to price wars, but will not solve all market problems. Lukas Coch/AAP

Coles and Woolworths code useful, but beware disputes

Coles, Woolworths and the Food and Grocery Council have released a draft industry code of conduct to help govern their relationships with suppliers. The code will be “voluntary” under section 51AE of the…
Commonwealth Bank chief Ian Narev announces a record full-year profit of A$7.8 billion, ahead of this week’s $2.1 billion quarterly result. Commonwealth Bank chief Ian Narev announces a record full-year profit of A$7.8 billion, ahead of this week’s $2.1 billion quarterly result. Paul Miller/AAP

Bank profits grow, and so does the criticism. Who’s right?

Like most companies, banks report their profits twice a year. Each time the majors report we see headlines about the size of the profits and implicit or explicit criticism of the amount – this time about…
Costco is looking to expand its US petrol business to its Australian stores. Costco is looking to expand its US petrol business to its Australian stores. lokeswari/Flickr

Costco’s entry into petrol is unlikely to help most consumers

In a new twist in the long-running Australian petrol wars, Costco is preparing to join the discount petrol market. Sydney’s second Costco outlet, scheduled to open later this year, will reportedly sell…
Legally, it would be extremely difficult to prove shopper docket fuel discounts are anti-competitive. Legally, it would be extremely difficult to prove shopper docket fuel discounts are anti-competitive. Michael Welsh via Flickr

Are shopper dockets anti-competitive? Good luck proving it

A curious feature of the election campaign to date has been the lack of focus on competition and consumer policy. Generally this subject rates highly, as parties try to curry favour with consumers and…
Not carpet bombs, but competition.. Not carpet bombs, but competition.. Pixabay/LoboStudioHamburg

If anything, the NHS should be carpeted with more competition

David Nicholson, the retiring Chief Executive of NHS England, has warned against what he called “carpet bombing” the NHS with competition. For him, and others, less focus on competition is a good thing…
A game of two halves: publishing performance can improve services but could also affect who surgeons choose to take on. A game of two halves: publishing performance can improve services but could also affect who surgeons choose to take on. PA/Gareth Fuller

Publishing surgeons' performance could lead to gaming

Data on hospital performance often shows a wide variation and this poses the question of whether it should be available to the public or kept confidential. The government wants more transparency and announced…
GPs and hospitals aren’t incentivised to properly manage demand, which has contributed to the crisis in Accident & Emergency. GPs and hospitals aren’t incentivised to properly manage demand, which has contributed to the crisis in Accident & Emergency. PA/Stephen Kelly

A&E is in crisis because we all take it for granted

Our increasing use of hospital services is out of control and unsustainable and is contributing to the current crisis in accident and emergency (A&E). But the problem isn’t new and 30 years of NHS…
Will a US$732 million penalty be enough to dissuade Microsoft from violating antitrust settlements in the future? Will a US$732 million penalty be enough to dissuade Microsoft from violating antitrust settlements in the future?

Big fine for a broken promise: Microsoft’s antitrust breach puts tech firms on notice

When large corporations can shrug off financial penalties and seem indifferent to reputational damage because they’ve captured the consumers, you might wonder about the true cost of broken promises in…
When it comes to IT products, Australian consumers pay more than their American counterparts. When it comes to IT products, Australian consumers pay more than their American counterparts. AAP

When the price is not right: technology price gouging in Australia

Apple Inc. has often portrayed itself as the champion of consumers, with its advertising campaigns on “1984”, “Think Different”, and “Rip, Mix, Burn”. However, this reputation has been called into question…
It appears that biodiversity increases during warmer periods in Earth’s history. It appears that biodiversity increases during warmer periods in Earth’s history. Dom Dada/Flickr

Competition: warming and its effect on biodiversity

In 2008, I and my colleagues published a study which appeared to confirm that current global warming could cause large losses of species and a loss of biodiversity. Four years later and a new approach…
To ensure a sound financial system, policymakers should balance the twin objectives of stability and competition. To ensure a sound financial system, policymakers should balance the twin objectives of stability and competition.

Is competition crucial to the health of the financial sector? You can bank on it

Reactions to my call this week for another inquiry into Australia’s financial system have been mixed. Most commentators seem to accept that there’s logic in having another inquiry, even if some think that…
Read the second part of our In Conversation between Stephen King (left) and former ACCC head, Graeme Samuel. Read the second part of our In Conversation between Stephen King (left) and former ACCC head, Graeme Samuel. AAP

Graeme Samuel: the problem with petrol, the NBN and the ‘scare campaign’ against supermarkets

Welcome to part two of our In Conversation between the former head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Graeme Samuel and Monash’s Professor Stephen King, also a former competition regulator…
Graeme Samuel and Stephen King: two of Australia’s most senior regulators sit down together for The Conversation. Graeme Samuel and Stephen King: two of Australia’s most senior regulators sit down together for The Conversation.

Graeme Samuel: We’ve lost principled, analytical debate in this country

What happens when two of Australia’s best known former competition regulators sit down together and talk about the world? A wide-ranging discussion on the state of Australia’s political debate, xenophobia…
The claim of “free to roam” is being challenged by the consumer regulator. The claim of “free to roam” is being challenged by the consumer regulator.

Impressions count when it comes to misleading consumers

Christmas is coming, which means consumers are out looking for great deals to fill stockings and feed the family. And for retailers and manufacturers, the temptation to add “spin” to their marketing is…
The ACCC has pledged to take more businesses to court over anti-competitive behaviour. The ACCC has pledged to take more businesses to court over anti-competitive behaviour. Hacklock

Will Rod Sims' tougher approach pay off for the ACCC?

When the appointment of Rod Sims as chairman of the competition watchdog was announced earlier this year, there was disquiet among some competition lawyers. Would Sims, an economist, readily appreciate…
Malcolm Turnbull talks about Telstra’s structural separation, the ACCC and much more with Joshua Gans. Malcolm Turnbull talks about Telstra’s structural separation, the ACCC and much more with Joshua Gans. Supplied

Turnbull: ‘It has been trench warfare between the ACCC and Telstra for a long time’

Welcome to the latest in our In Conversation series, between Opposition Spokesman for Communications and Broadband, Malcolm Turnbull and economist, Professor Joshua Gans. This week, attention has again…
Surprisingly few people change banks, believing it is more complicated than it actually is. Surprisingly few people change banks, believing it is more complicated than it actually is. AAP

Despite your fears, dumping your bank won’t end in tears

Treasurer Wayne Swan is fond of telling anyone who will listen how much he wants bank customers to “walk down the road and get a better deal”. This sums up the government’s vision for reforming the banking…
Price-gouging might occur under the carbon tax regime, but market discipline will keep it in check. Price-gouging might occur under the carbon tax regime, but market discipline will keep it in check. Flickr/dmcneil

Trust the market – why regulation won’t stop carbon tax gouging

Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan has announced that the government will provide the competition watchdog with almost $13 million in extra funding to tackle carbon tax-related price-gouging. In this context…

Research and News (2)

Research Briefs (1)