Power down under

Competition authorities across the world are in a constant battle against the abuse of monopoly power and the collusion of oligopolists to gang up against the consumer. They are also concerned with mergers where these result in a reduction in competition. The following articles look at market power in Australia and at some high profile cases of oligopolist collusion. Examples include the big four banks in Australia and the two supermarket giants, Coles and Woolworths, which dominate the sector.

The articles also examine the role of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Australia’s equivalent to the UK’s Competition Commission and Office of Fair Trading (soon to be merged).

Get out of monopoly free cards can’t be left to the roll of the dice Sydney Morning Herald, Jessica Irvine (27/10/10)
Australia watchdog adds voice to criticism of banks Reuters (22/10/10)
Major banks to beat wage rise The Australian, Blair Speedy (6/10/10)
Analysis: Australian firms forced into deals abroad Reuters, Michael Smith and Sonali Paul (21/10/10)
Hockey outlines plan for banking reform Business Spectator (25/10/10)
Banks are laughing all the way to… the bank Sydney Morning Herald, Josh Gordon (24/10/10)
Xenophon: ACCC Allows Woolworths & Lowes to Hurt Consumers & Competition Mathaba (27/10/10)
Woolies still the target of Coles firepower Sydney Morning Herald, Michael Baker (27/10/10)

Competition authority in Australia
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission


  1. In what ways can competition authorities bring about greater competition in oligopolistic industries?
  2. Explain the distinction between a demand-side and a supply-side approach to competition policy.
  3. Why do Australian airlines find it more difficult than Australian banks to pass on cost increases to consumers?
  4. Are highly competitive markets always better for consumers than oligopolistic ones? Explain.