Welcome to the Australian Lottery and Newsagents’ Association

The Australian Lottery and Newsagents’ Association (ALNA) is the peak industry body representing Australian newsagencies and lottery agents. There are 4000 individually owned and operated newsagencies in the country and together they make up Australia's largest retail and home delivery group.
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ALNA Membership

Through strength and size, the ALNA has the necessary means to achieve outcomes difficult to achieve by a single business.

For just $876 per annum*, your ALNA membership gives you access to industry representation, complimentary advice on industrial relations and leasing matters, discounts on insurance, access to accredited industry training courses, and so much more.

Click here for a membership form

*Membership prices vary by state. Membership fee is capped at $876 per annum.

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Hank Spier: Helping to create a level playing field

Australian competition law expert, Hank Spier, advises ALNA in the area of policy, advocacy and handling individual newsagents' contract disputes.

The Channel caught up with Spier to talk about the work he does for ALNA, as well as the impact the changes to Unfair Contract Terms (UCT) legislation will have on newsagents.

The Channel: Can you provide a brief background on the work you do for ALNA?

Hank Spier: I tend to specialise with small business clients, like newsagents. I focus on regulatory issues such as competition, consumer issues and other issues where newsagents are impacted. I do a lot of policy work for newsagents. I tackle a lot of individual policy disputes for newsagents that are referred to me by ALNA.

TC: What were the developments in competition policy in 2016?

HS: The biggest is the unfair trading terms legislation. It's the biggest thing that I think has happened for small business in the last 20 years. Newsagents who have been on the weak end of most supplier transactions, now have got a leg up, which they haven't had in the past.

TC: Do you believe newsagents will start to contest contracts they deem as being "unfair"?

HS: I think they will eventually ask the association to represent them. Plus the ACCC is picking up standard form contracts and challenging them. There are a lot of different ways for a contract to be challenged.

A lot of businesses will change their contracts anyway because the law has changed. There is pressure for all kinds of avenues for contract terms to be changed and that's very, very important. A simplistic one is that you can't change the contract for example. A large company can't just go ahead and change a contract.

It gives small business something of, just to put it bluntly, not being screwed. And that's very, very important.

TC: So any company that wants to vary an existing contract means it then comes into play?

HS: Yes. You need to have a look at what happens in a market place. Let's say a X contract or X franchise. Company X are probably writing new franchise agreements every couple of weeks, so they will be effected and this could then flow through to existing contracts. Company X is not going to have a thousand different contracts.

TC: Say, for example, the ACCC sees a dozen or so of these unfair contracts coming through. Can they go and make a claim against existing contracts?

HS: That's the last action. What the Commission have been doing over the last year, before the law came into effect, is write to businesses saying, "We believe that the following terms are unfair and that has to be changed". Some may take the Commission on, but that hasn't happened yet. So the Commission, through persuasion, is getting the contracts changed.

But the Commission being a public authority has to be fair and can't go after everyone for every minor issue. The Commission will attack the most obvious that is unfair.

We as a body (ALNA), that represents the individual newsagents, try to take on more uncertain issues. There's many grey areas and it's up to us to challenge those grey areas.

TC: Is there any advice you can give to newsagents for when they deem a contract to be "unfair"?

HS: If newsagents think something is unfair, query things. If you think something is unfair, go and speak to the association (ALNA). See if it's unfair and what can be done about it.

What I often see is newsagents sign contracts when they damn well shouldn't. Again, again and again. "Why the hell did you sign this contract? Why in the hell did you do this as a business?" Just check and ask questions?

The only way you can have a concern is to read the contract. A lot of things in a contract are confusing; they are difficult. Just don't sign anything willy nilly.

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