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Log In / Register | Nov 23, 2014

Meet the New Aussie Watchdog

Little FolksThe new chief of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Rod Sims, has some observers suggesting his background may not be suitable to the role. Franchising will be hoping for a change in ACCC direction.

Mr Sims' diverse experience suggests a potential for anything although comparing his experience in business to his predecessor at the ACCC might suggest he may actually regulate for the people of Australia.

Rod Sims was deputy secretary at the Commonwealth Department of Prime Minister and Treasury and then principal economic adviser to Prime Minister Bob Hawke. He was until recently a director of successful Ingeus working to get people off welfare and back into the workforce and he has spent 9 years overseas advising governments of more than 10 countries on macroeconomic and tax policy and petroleum and mining contract negotiations.

The roles Rod Sims has relinquished to take up the ACCC role include;

Rod Sims, ACCC ChairmanDirector at consulting firm Port Jackson Partners, Chairman of the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, Chairman of aid donor funded infrastructure project development company InfraCo Asia, Commissioner on the National Competition Council, Member of the Research and Policy Council of the Committee for Economic Development of Australia and expert adviser to the Prime Minister's Multi Party Climate Change Committee.  Mr Sims holds a first class honours degree in Commerce and a Master of Economics.

The profit motive is a wonderful thing. It drives innovation, it drives prosperity, it drives productivity, but business needs to know the rules and the boundaries within which it plays.  Rod Simms; Chairman of the ACCC

Not all Australians look to the new regulator with confidence. That does not seem unreasonable given a long period where regulation has been selective and questionable where big business has gained a dangerous level of control over the entire Australian economy.

For the forgotten franchising sector of the last decade, franchisees will be keen to see whether Mr Sims’ suggestion that laws are meant to be deterrents and enforced will produce a cultural change at the ACCC. On taking office officially on July 1, Rod Sims will immediately encounter the dilemma of a deficient federal Franchising Code of Conduct causing moves by State Governments to fill the void.  

The long-term upside for franchisees might be Mr Sims' record of instructive advice to governments where regulatory performance has been hampered.

Increased competition, stronger competition laws and effective enforcement action by the ACCC all play a vital role in combating cost of living pressures. Cartels keep consumer prices inflated as do companies abusing their market power.  Frank Zumbo, Associate Professor, School of Business Law and Taxation, University of New South Wales

Probably the biggest challenge the new Commissioner faces in regard to franchising is the existing ACCC culture of discounting the sector’s important economic contribution and the role franchising should play in offering better outcomes for the Australian people. Time will tell.

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