When you do business in Australia, you expect that your competition will play by the rules set out by the government, but that’s not how things always go down. There are companies out there who are willing to flaunt those rules in order to get a competitive edge. It’s an unfair, not to mention illegal, practice that some are willing to try. The good news is that when they get caught, the penalties can often be severe. One of the more recent instances took place in the concrete industry, and it all went down with Concrete Tradesman on the Sunshine Coast.
A total of 4 companies were found to be in violation of the Trade Practices Act 1974, with the breaches all taking place between 2002 and 2006. It was believed that the 4 companies in question entered into an agreement with a number of different power stations in order to secure a product known as flyash. The reason why this material is so in demand by concrete companies is because it can easily be used as a cheap alternative to cement when making concrete. To say that it would give tradesmen in Little Mountain, Kawana, and beyond a competitive edge is putting things rather mildly.
It was the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) way back in 2008, which gives you an example of how slowly things can move when it comes to the government. The ACCC believed that a fine in the region of $90 million would have delivered a real message to these companies, as well as to any others looking to skirt the rules. The fact that the federal government only levied fines totaling $18.2 million is a little disappointing, as the ACCC looks at that amount as little more than the cost of doing business.
While it may seem as though just 4 companies being caught in the wrong seems relatively small, the fact is that the impact of their dealings can be very far reaching indeed. The Australian economy thrives on competition, and when you have 4 companies taking up a large portion of the concrete business in a specific area, you run the risk of other companies simply being unable to compete, largely due to the pricing of contracts which end up being driven by the companies in control. That makes things very difficult for all of the companies trying to do things the right way.
While the financial hit taken by the 4 companies – Cement Australia Pty Ltd, Cement Australia Queensland Pty Ltd, Pozzolanic Enterprises Pty Ltd, and Pozzolanic Industries Pty Ltd – they may all encounter another problem. While potential customers want a good price, they also want to work with companies that they can trust. By their own actions, these 4 companies have put a mark on themselves that all potential customers are going to see. That could prove to be good news for the concrete companies and tradesmen who are doing things the right way.