New legislation introduced Thursday would create new state legislative branch powers to fight corporate takeover, which could mean a new battle for consumer advocates.
The bill would also allow for more aggressive enforcement of antitrust laws, including imposing a temporary cap on what types of companies can be given monopolistic control over a business.
The bill, which is a companion to legislation being considered by the Senate, would create the New South Wales Legislative Branch to fight monopoly control and force corporations to disclose ownership stakes in their businesses.
It would also add the power to enforce antitrust laws against the big four companies, including Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and Time Warner Cable.
This power would be transferred from the state’s Department of Consumer Affairs to the Legislative Branch, which would then be able to investigate and prosecute such instances.
New South Wales has long had a strong anti-monopoly stance, but it has been more difficult to hold companies accountable for their actions than its peers.
The state has been grappling with its first ever antitrust law enforcement case, and it is widely seen as an example of how the state should handle such cases.
In a ruling earlier this month, a New South Welsh court found Comcast and other big four cable companies had illegally monopolized the New Zealand market by blocking competitors.
The state’s Attorney General, Mark Colvin, said the case highlighted how New Zealand could move to have an antitrust law that would be stronger than the one in the United States.
“The New Zealand experience shows how strong the antitrust law in New Zealand can be,” Colvin said at the time.
“We are trying to build a strong New Zealand law that is the right one and the best one, but this case shows we need to look beyond New Zealand and to look at the other parts of the world that have strong laws on these matters.”
New South Welsh Governor Nigel Hone said the legislation could help protect consumers from a situation where a corporation has an unfair advantage over an alternative.
“I hope the legislation will be helpful in protecting consumers from any kind of unfair practices,” Hone told reporters in New York.
“I think it’s a positive thing.”
In a statement to Axios, Colvin acknowledged that the state was trying to achieve its goals, but noted that “the law is a work in progress.”
“It’s important to note that the legislation does not change any state law, nor will it replace state law,” Colver said.
“This legislation is an important first step to strengthen the state and local government’s ability to police monopolies and to take actions against those who violate antitrust laws.”
A spokesperson for New South South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the government does not comment on pending legislation.