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March 30, 2015

Australia: ACCC comes under fire for conference costs

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has come under fire for spending $500,000 on a gathering of 500 international competition regulators, lawyers and academics to be held in Sydney next month.

The annual International Competition Network meeting will be held at the Sheraton on the Park over four days in April.

The competition watchdog has been accused of behaving extravagantly, after asking the Abbott government for cash last year.

Expenses for the event have been reported to include a $260,000 contract with the Sheraton on the Park; $47,000 for a “cocktail and canape style welcome event” at the Sydney Opera House; and $32,000 for a Sydney Harbour cruise for delegates and their partners.

Pat Conroy, the chair of Labor’s Waste Watch Committee, has been quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald as saying the ACCC needed to justify the “extravagant” spending.

“How is spending $80,000 on harbour cruises and canapes at the Opera House helping to protect consumers from unscrupulous big businesses?” he asked.

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