Government reappoints Samuel as nation's chief competition regulator

FIVE years after Graeme Samuel's appointment as the top competition regulator, which the Labor opposition of the time vehemently opposed, the Rudd Labor Government has reappointed him chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

FIVE years after Graeme Samuel's appointment as the top competition regulator, which the Labor opposition of the time vehemently opposed, the Rudd Labor Government has reappointed him chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs Minister Chris Bowen yesterday announced a three-year second term for the high-profile Mr Samuel, shorter than his five-year first term as ACCC chairman.

Mr Samuel has been broadly seen as a vigorous, thorough and independent competition regulator, though some questioned his recent support of the Government's FuelWatch petrol price scheme.

No state government has written to the Federal Government opposing Mr Samuel's reappointment, where four initially opposed his appointment in 2003.

The then federal Labor opposition finance spokesman, Stephen Conroy, under privilege attacked Mr Samuel's fitness to be chairman, but would not repeat his remarks outside Parliament.

Mr Samuel said yesterday the Government had agreed to his request for a three-year term as he is 62 and "65 is the standard age of corporate retirement".

He said he did not intend to retire at that age. "Are you kidding?" he said, but in three years he would want to step back from what was a "seven day a week job" and also spend more time with his grandchildren.

Mr Samuel welcomed the Government's announcement of two new deputy chairmen: Peter Kell and Michael Schaper, both for five-year terms.

Mr Kell is the chief executive of the consumer advocacy group, Choice, and before that was executive director of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

At Choice, Mr Kell has been campaigning against the proposed merger between Westpac and St George banks, arguing that if successful the merger would "leave consumers worse off".

The ACCC is weighing the implications for competition of the proposed merger, and some in the business community are worried Mr Kell's appointment signals increased likelihood the merger will notbe approved.

Mr Samuel rejected these concerns. "Peter (Kell) will be entitled to express his views but he is one of eight commissioners, and decisions of this kind are made by all commissioners after an inquiry that considers the full range of information and analysis."

Mr Schaper is dean of Murdoch University's business school and has been a small business commissioner in the ACT.

Representatives of the business community welcomed Mr Samuel's reappointment.

Heather Ridout, chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, congratulated him, saying: "He has been a very active and committed head of the ACCC. I look forward to maintaining a robust dialogue with him. I wish him well."

Tony Stevens, chief executive of the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia, said: "Graeme Samuel has worked hard at making and maintaining ACCC links with small business."


Join the Conversation...

There are comments posted so far.

If you'd like to join this conversation, please login or sign up here

Related Articles