Big fines for truck­ing car­tel


Big Rigs - - SPIT WA­TER -

A CAR­TEL re­vealed to be op­er­at­ing in the ex­press freight in­dus­try came to a head in 1994 and dom­i­nated Big Rigs head­lines.

In August, the Fed­eral Court handed down record penal­ties against TNT and Ansett Transport for their part in a car­tel that had been price- fix­ing and rig­ging mar­ket shares since at least 1987.

The three big­gest com­pa­nies in the ex­press freight in­dus­try were ac­cused of agree­ing not to com­pete against, not to take cus­tomers and even to com­pen­sate the other com­pany if a cus­tomer de­cided to change its provider.

The com­pa­nies were also ac­cused of forc­ing cus­tomers back to their orig­i­nal car­rier through poor ser­vice and price rises.

TNT was fined $ 4.1 mil­lion for its role in the car­tel af­ter with­draw­ing its de­fence.

Ansett also with­drew its de­fence and was fined $ 900,000. The fines were later added to.

The third com­pany that col­luded in the car­tel was Mayne Nick­less, which elected to keep on fight­ing the ac­cu­sa­tions lev­elled against it.

At the time of the August 1994 fines, Trade Prac­tices Com­mis­sion chair­man Pro­fes­sor Al­lan Fels told Big Rigs the com­pa­nies’ ac­tions rep­re­sented the most sus­tained and sys­temic price fix­ing case ever to come be­fore an Aus­tralian court.

TNT se­nior ex­ec­u­tive at the time David Mor­timer was re­ported to have said the com­pa­nies were sick and tired of the on­go­ing le­gal bat­tle which was wast­ing the “valu­able time of se­nior man­age­ment”.

It be­gan when a fourth com­pany, Dis­count Freight Ex­press, com­plained to the TPC about the col­lu­sion be­tween the three com­pa­nies.

Owner Greg Poach told Big Rigs the re­sult had been a long time com­ing.

“Everybody in the in­dus­try has been af­fected for the last 30 years.

“The TPC ini­tially be­gan their in­ves­ti­ga­tions into un­fair price fix­ing but by the end of the year, re­alised they were un­cov­er­ing a car­tel in­volv­ing some of the big­gest busi­ness names in the coun­try,” Big Rigs re­ported on August 19.

The case didn’t come to a com­plete end un­til later that year, when Mayne Nick­less ac­cepted a $ 7.7 mil­lion fine ( with costs) rather than con­tin­u­ing to fight the case in court.

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