14 December 2021

'Go-to' competition lawyer to succeed Rod Sims as ACCC chair

| Ian Bushnell
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Gina Cass-Gottlieb and Josh Frydenberg

Incoming chair of the ACCC Gina Cass-Gottlieb and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. Photo: Twitter.

Australia’s competition and consumer czar for more than 10 years is set to hand over the reins in 2022 to the first woman to take up the role.

The Morrison Government has nominated top-flight lawyer Gina Cass-Gottlieb to be the next chairperson of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), succeeding Rod Sims.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Ms Cass-Gottlieb was one of Australia’s preeminent competition lawyers, having been a senior partner in competition and regulation at Gilbert + Tobin for more than 25 years.

“During her distinguished career in legal practice, she has advised on some of the largest and most complex competition matters in Australia and New Zealand,” he said.

She specialises in merger clearance advice for complex and contentious matters and plays a critical role in ACCC enforcement and regulatory investigations for high-profile clients.

Ms Cass-Gottlieb has been described as “the go-to in Australia for helping people navigate difficult situations” in the competition sphere and is repeatedly sought out by clients to provide advice on complex and cutting-edge work.

She was appointed a member of the Reserve Bank of Australia Payment Systems Board in 2013 and a member of the Financial Regulator Assessment Authority in September this year.

READ ALSO Employers and staff face a raft of legal challenges in wake of COVID-19 lockdown

“I have written to states and territories seeking their support for the proposed appointment of Ms Cass-Gottlieb ahead of recommending to the Governor-General that Ms Cass-Gottlieb be appointed as ACCC Chairperson for five years, commencing on 21 March 2022,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“I also thank Mr Rod Sims for his dedication and leadership over more than 10 years as Chairman of the ACCC.”

ACCC chair Rod Sims

ACCC chair Rod Sims has been in the role for more than a decade. Photo: ACCC.

He said Mr Sims had made an outstanding contribution to competition, consumer and infrastructure policy in his time at the ACCC, helping to advance world-leading reforms, most recently with respect to the digital platforms.

“I also acknowledge his wider contribution to public policy during his distinguished public service career, which spans more than three decades. I wish him well for the future,” Mr Frydenberg said.

Mr Sims played a key role as an economic adviser during the Hawke Government’s reform program and was a Deputy Secretary in two departments, including PM&C.

He then spent time in the private sector, including with corporate consultant Port Jackson Partners and chairing successful aid development company InfraCo Asia.

READ MORE Rod Sims: the competition and consumer watchdog bringing big business to heel

Mr Sims told Region Media in a recent profile that he believed the ACCC’s job was so fundamentally important to Australia that it was too big an opportunity to ignore when he was offered the chair in 2011.

He is now the ACCC’s longest-serving chair and has developed a fearsome reputation as a litigator for and protector of the public interest.

The ACCC plays a vital role in promoting competition, fair trading and regulating national infrastructure for the benefit of all Australians.

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