• John Luxton

The Minister of Commerce announced today that the budget will include increased funding for the Commerce Commisison.

The Government has decided that the Commerce Commisison will receive an additional $56,250 in 1998/99 and an additional $225,000 in 1999/2000 (all figures are GST inclusive) in order to undertake an investigation into airport pricing. The investigation is to be completed by December 1999.

The investigation, along with the Airport Authorities Amendment Act, responds to the review completed in 1995 which found that there was potential for airport companies to move into an excessive profit position as a result of high growth rates. Section 54(1) of the Commerce Act 1986 allows the Minister of Commerce to require the Commerce Commission to report to him on whether he should make a recommendation to the Governor-General to impose price control.

The threat of price control is an essential ingredient in the light handed regulatory environment in which business operates. If in a specific industry it is clear that such a regime does not protect against the abuses of monopoly power, then the Government can take action to protect the interests of consumers and other producers.