In a press release today, Standards Australia have announced the decision of the arbitrator in the contract extension dispute between SAI Global (the distributor) and Standards Australia. Standards Australia has said that moving forward, ‘any extended distribution agreement with SAI Global will be non-exclusive’. They have announced that they ‘can now take steps to move beyond the exclusive distribution arrangements that have been in place with SAI Global since 2003.’
Standards Australia’s Chairman, Richard Brooks, said in the release that ‘the arbitration decision (is) an exciting step towards delivering greater value and improving access to Australian Standards®’. Mr Brooks stated this decision will aid in ‘building capability and external partnerships to deliver new methods of distribution to end users.’
Over the past year, the Safety Institute of Australia, on behalf of the health and safety profession, has actively lobbied for an end to the 15-year monopoly distribution arrangements. SIA Chief Executive, David Clarke, congratulated Standards Australia in taking up the challenge of removing what has long been seen by the Institute as an unfair arrangement to Australian business. “Standards are an important tool for Australian businesses in many ways, they play a vital role in understanding health and safety responsibilities and implementing good health and safety practice. The price of standards has been increasingly prohibitive and one of the key reasons of this has been the distribution monopoly. This announcement is the first step in seeing those costs come down” he said.
Mr Clarke said that the Institute will continue to take a strong interest in the development of the wider distribution market for Australian Standards, and that this announcement was only the first step. “This is not just about medium and large enterprises. A million small businesses in this country do not access standards because of their cost which directly affects their health and safety. This recent decision will reduce costs which is a positive step, but there is still a case to be made for the Commonwealth to look at subsidising access for some areas of Australian business, especially small business” he said.