Australian Newsagency Blog

A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

The competitive neutrality inquiry into the ABC and SBS is a small business fail for the government

Mark Fletcher
May 11th, 2018 · 2 Comments

For years, newsagents have called for an inquiry into the competitive neutrality of the government owned Australian Post retail businesses. I wrote about it here in 2005.

One argument is that Australia Post leverages its essential service status to gain access to advantageous tenancy arrangements that are not accessible to newsagents and other small businesses that compete with them. Another argument is that Australia Post leverages its protected monopoly status in leveraging supplier deals.

Australia Post, through its corporate stores directly competes with small business newsagents.

Successive governments have demonstrated no interest into an inquiry.

Fast forward to 2018. The ABC runs a report critical of government economic policy and is hassled by News Corp and wham! we have a competitive neutrality inquiry into the ABC.

The politicians and big business put themselves ahead of the needs of small business retailers like newsagents.

The Australia Post and ABC matters are related in that they are about competitive neutrality.

I say that Australia Post does more economic damage to small business newsagents and other retailers than the ABC digital strategy does to News Corp. and other media companies.

The politicians show their hand by moving quickly on the ABC inquiry and ignoring calls on the Australia Post matter. Big business is their friend. We are not – despite the nonsense they peddle at election time.

My view is underscored by the $30 million given to Foxtel recently without any business case being made and without any requirement on transparency re its use. Oh, and the elimination of TV broadcast licences because of the cost of digital transformation for TV networks. If only we had a government that cared about small business to the same extent.

We in small business need politicians who are as focussed and energised for us and those we serve as those in Canberra who do the bidding of big business. No, actually, we need politicians who serve the whole country rather than so many we have today who serve their mates ahead of the vast majority of Australians. Shame on us, we get those we vote for.


Category: Competition · Ethics · Social responsibility

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Factory Worker // May 12, 2018 at 5:40 AM

    It seems that Government enquiries seem to be the on trend thing at the moment.

    This is the second enquiry Mark has called for this week. The other being an enquiry into shopping centre management where he suggested it be no less than a Royal Commission.

    One Senate enquiry that is actually taking place is the “The operation and effectiveness of the Franchising Code of Conduct”. Unfortunatly opportunities to make submissions closed last week.

    I wonder what that would have turned up if it investigated Newsagency franchises?


  • 2 Mark Fletcher // May 12, 2018 at 7:25 AM

    ‘Factory’ I have called for one inquiry this week, a Royal Commission into retail shopping centre development and retail tenancies in Australia. I, and many others think, it would be worth the investment.

    My post about competitive neutrality itself does not call for an inquiry. It does, however, refer to my post from 2005 and wonders why this government is so quick to look into the ABC, on behalf of News Corp. but not into Australia Post on behalf of small businesses.

    You offer no opinion here on those two posts other than to misrepresent, in part, what I wrote.

    Then, you write about the senate inquiry into franchises. I agree, I wonder would have been found if they investigated newsagency franchises. Personally, I would 100% support any specific inquiry into newsagency franchises. To capture all marketing groups, however, there would need to be a broad definition of a franchise as some marketing groups, while they operate under the code, do not pass the test to be labelled a franchise.

    ‘Factory’, my business relationships and involvements are fully known here and elsewhere. People ca read what I write with this context. You continue to hurl rocks from the secrecy of anonymity. This makes your points weaker.


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