Surgeons seek authorisation

THE Trade Practices Act recognises there are some circumstances where the public benefits resulting from conduct which may be anti-competitive actually exceed the costs. Accordingly, the Act provides for special cases where conduct that may otherwise be prohibited is granted exemption and allowed under a process called “authorisation”.

Organisations can apply to the ACCC for authorisation of business arrangements or conduct that would not otherwise be allowed under the Act.

The most recent application for authorisation was last week from the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) which applied for authorisation of its processes to select trainees and assess overseas-trained doctors in the specialties in which it conducts training such as general surgery, neurosurgery and orthopaedic surgery.

The ACCC was concerned that RACS’ processes restricted doctors entry to advanced medical and surgical training.

Under the authorisation process, RACS must now demonstrate that there is a public benefit arising from the conduct sufficient to outweigh any detriment caused by the lessening of competition that might result.

Interested parties too will have the opportunity to have their views considered by the Commission. Submissions are open to all members of the public and submission may comment on the claims and arguments of others.

* Professor Allan Fels is chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

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