Rate hikes “indicative” of competition issues: ACCC

by Miklos Bolza18 Oct 2017
The chairman of the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has expressed concerns about joint motions made by the banks in relation to regulatory changes.

These remarks come from the government’s Review of the ACCC Annual Report 2016 tabled on Monday (16 October), which examined the regulator’s response to a parliamentary hearing earlier last month.

The ACCC chairman Rod Sims said that interest rate hikes by the banks in response to Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) restrictions “reaffirmed” the regulator’s concerns about competition in the sector.

“It's hard to say more until we get [the banks’] documents, but you'd have to say the banks reacting in the same way to something where they could have gone this way or that way is always indicative of the general concerns we've got.”

The ACCC has been tasked with inquiring into residential mortgage products, in particular price changes or proposed changes by the banks in response to the major bank levy.

Sims said the results of the inquiry were to be released in early 2018 with the aim to create some firm facts as opposed to mere speculation.

The inquiry will focus on two areas in particular, he said.

“We're firstly looking for evidence of what the process is so that we can understand it more fully than we currently do, but we're also looking for the actual decision-making documents that might, in a sense, open up the black box, the one that has always been quite hard for consumers to understand.”

As well as providing transparency, Sims said the report would uncover why the banks chose to raise rates and what these moves mean for both the market and consumers.

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