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New Unfair Terms Law

The Trade Practices (Australian Consumer Law) Bill 2009 was introduced into Parliament last month and contains the new unfair terms laws which, if passed, will enter into force on 1 January 2009.  They are, however, considerably watered down from the original proposed unfair terms laws and the Government has provided insufficient explanation for this change.
 

Criminal Cartel laws passed

Australia will soon join the US, the UK and a number of other countries in criminalising cartel behaviour.  The criminalisation of cartels is desirable.  The economic damage they cause is well documented and civil penalties, no matter the size, have failed to provide adequate deterrence.  But the consequences of criminalisation are serious and it is important to ‘get it right’.  While it took many years for Australia to introduce criminal cartel legislation, its passage through Parliament has been rushed with the consequence that the bill that has now passed is seriously flawed and likely to lead to considerable uncertainty.  The sudden urgency (grounded more in politics than good policy) was highlighted by Senator Coonan's acknowledgement that, despite the potential for the bil

The evolving world of public relations

I'm chairing and presenting at this week's PR and New Media Summit in Brisbane, and it's got me thinking about the evolving nature of public relations.

When I started my BA (Public Relations) at Deakin in 1985, the role of the mass media was of paramount importance to PR practitioners. Mainframe computers were starting to be used for word processing, and telephone calls were made on rotary dial, fixed-line telephones (provided by Telecom).

Creeping towards creepy 'creeping acquisition laws'

On 6 May the government released a second discussion paper relating to the introduction of creeping acquisition laws in Australia.  It is disappointing to say the least.  A 'creeping acquistion' involves ‘the acquisition of a number of individual assets or businesses over time that may collectively raise competition concerns, but when considered in isolation, are unlikely to be captured by the existing mergers and acquisitions test under section 50 …’ (this is the definition adopted in Chris Bowen’s Press Release) and the ALP have, for many years

The recession and consumer behaviour

Since 1990, household debt has risen from around 80 per cent of income to around 130 per cent. So household finances were badly stretched leading up to the middle of 2008. There has been very little change in ratio of total household net worth from post-war to 1990. But after 1990, there was a significant increase in household wealth in proportion to disposable income, i.e., we have more money to spend, and products cost less. This is then coupled with the fact that economy has been more stable since 1985, than in prior postwar recessions – recessions have been less frequent and also shorter and smaller. As our wealth has increased, we have saved less, because we don’t feel the need to save for a rainy day (because we believe that we will always have money). The optimism bias tells us that if times are good, we assume that times will continue to be good.

Time for a World Financial Authority

First proposed 10 years ago in John Eatwell & Lance Taylor, Global Finance at Risk: The Case For International Regulation (New Press, New York 2000), the time has come for the establishment of a global body to regulate cross-border finance. In fact it is long overdue. This is precisely what the G20 should be discussing now. The fact that it isn’t or won’t squanders a critical opportunity in world history.

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