Ce­ment com­pa­nies fined $18.62m for anti-com­pet­i­tive con­duct

Fiji Sun - - Business -

The Fed­eral Court in Bris­bane, Aus­tralia has or­dered four ce­ment com­pa­nies pay more than $18 mil­lion in penal­ties for an­ti­com­pet­i­tive con­duct.

The court in Bris­bane found the com­pa­nies pre­vented com­pe­ti­tion in the con­crete mar­ket when they en­tered into con­tracts with power sta­tions in south-east Queens­land to ac­quire a prod­uct called “fly­ash”. Fly­ash is a by-prod­uct of burn­ing black coal at power sta­tions and can be used as a cheap sub­sti­tute for ce­ment in con­crete. The cor­po­ra­tions, Ce­ment Aus­tralia Pty Ltd, Ce­ment Aus­tralia Queens­land Pty Ltd, Poz­zolanic En­ter­prises Pty Ltd, and Poz­zolanic In­dus­tries Pty Ltd, en­tered into the con­tracts be­tween 2002 and 2006, in breach of the then Trade Prac­tices Act 1974.

No al­le­ga­tions were made against the power sta­tions in­volved in the con­tracts, the Millmer­ran, Tarong, Tarong North, and Swan­bank sta­tions. The Aus­tralian Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Com­mis­sion (ACCC), which brought the pro­ceed­ings against the com­pa­nies in 2008, said a fine of $90 mil­lion would have been more suf­fi­cient.

“I’m afraid for com­pa­nies of this size and the na­ture of the be­hav­iour and the im­por­tance of it to the com­pa­nies, I’m afraid $18 mil­lion could be seen as just the cost of do­ing busi­ness,” ACCC chair­man Rod Sims said. “We re­ally do need to get higher penal­ties to get ap­pro­pri­ate de­ter­rence.

“The be­hav­iour that was be­ing un­der­taken was ex­clud­ing com­peti­tors, that’s very dam­ag­ing for the Aus­tralian econ­omy, and the pro­duc­tiv­ity of the Aus­tralian econ­omy, so it’s im­por­tant this sort of be­hav­iour does not oc­cur.”

In his judge­ment against the ce­ment com­pa­nies, Jus­tice Green­wood found they had such a sub­stan­tial mar­ket share, and ex­er­cised such a sub­stan­tial de­gree of in­flu­ence on pric­ing in the lo­cal mar­ket for con­crete grade fly­ash, that the im­pact of new com­pe­ti­tion in the mar­ket would have been sig­nif­i­cant.

The Fed­eral Court or­dered the com­pa­nies pay a to­tal of $18,620,000 in penal­ties.

The rul­ing fol­lows an $18 mil­lion fine im­posed on Col­gate-Pal­mo­live for car­tel con­duct, over the price and sup­ply fix­ing of laun­dry de­ter­gents.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Fiji

© PressReader. All rights reserved.