The Commerce Commission has launched a new website aimed at helping members of the construction industry increase their understanding of competition and consumer laws so they can improve their compliance.
Kate Morrison, competition general manager for the Commerce Commission, says the idea for the website arose from the commission’s work with the sector over the last few years. “We saw the need for a user-friendly guide specifically tailored to the needs of construction businesses and workers to help them understand and comply with the laws that we enforce,” she explains.
“We’ve tried to make the language on the website really down to earth and practical. We want it to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for busy people. And we’ve put in lots of examples to help make the concepts more relevant.”
Ms Morrison says the wider construction sector is “incredibly important” to New Zealand’s economy for a number of reasons. “Estimates suggest that we are on the brink of the largest construction boom in New Zealand for 40 years, part of which of course is due to the Canterbury rebuild, but also to high levels of activity in Auckland,” she adds.
The Commerce Commission says overseas experience indicates that the construction sector is particularly susceptible to cartel conduct, or price-fixing, mainly due to structural characteristics of many construction markets. It has therefore been actively working with the sector since 2010 to raise awareness of competition and consumer laws.
More recently, the earthquakes in Canterbury have also provided further opportunity for anti-competitive behaviour as the rebuild takes place. It is widely acknowledged internationally that fraud, corruption and anti-competitive practices (such as price fixing, bid rigging, and market sharing) occur after natural disasters.
“All these opportunities and risks make it really important that we focus our minds on the construction industry and do what we can to assist construction markets to work well during the rebuild and throughout the country,” Ms Morrison says.