Australian pair hired for senior jobs at Hong Kong competition watchdog

New commission also lines up overseas recruit for the top job, but is hiring locals too

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 March, 2014, 4:28am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 March, 2014, 4:28am

Two Australians have been recruited for key jobs at the commission responsible for implementing Hong Kong's new competition law.

Rose Webb brings 25 years of government and regulatory experience to her role as senior executive director at the Competition Commission, while Tim Lear will be executive director of operations, responsible for investigating breaches of the Competition Ordinance. Webb will report directly to the organisation's chief executive. A candidate, also from overseas, has been chosen for the chief executive job, but will not be named until references can be taken up.

Webb and Lean, who both worked at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, were hired in a global recruitment exercise, said Janice Yuen Nga-sze, assistant manager for public affairs at the Hong Kong body.

"There is no particular preference for Australians," she said, adding that local staff had also been hired.

The commission was created as a statutory body under the Competition Ordinance, which was passed in 2012 after years of debate. The law, intended to stamp out anti-competitive practices such as bid-rigging and price-fixing, is being introduced in phases, starting with the establishment of the commission and the Competition Tribunal.

The commission's task is to draw up guidelines for business, investigate complaints and bring cases to the tribunal. It hopes to submit guidelines for Legislative Council approval by the beginning of next year at the latest.

In the meantime, it will concentrate on informing trade associations and firms of the law.

Daisy Chan Pui-chu, the commission's executive director for public affairs, said explaining the law to traders selling commodities like chicken and flour would be a big challenge.

A month ago, chicken farmers, wholesalers and retailers admitted fixing prices of local chickens after a cull of imported mainland chickens following a bird flu scare. It was legal, as the competition law is not yet in force.