The Commerce Commission has launched a new website for the construction industry to help industry members increase their understanding of competition and consumer laws so they can improve their compliance and address issues around possible price fixing.
"The idea for the website arose from our work with the sector over the last few years," says competition branch general manager Kate Morrison. "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.
"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.
"Overseas experience indicates that the sector is particularly susceptible to cartel, or price-fixing conduct, mainly due to structural characteristics of many construction markets. The commission has therefore been actively working with the sector since 2010 to raise awareness of competition and consumer laws."
She says that 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 (eg, price fixing, bid rigging, and market sharing) occur after natural disasters."