In a landmark move from an independent arbitrator, Standards Australia have announced that any long term distribution agreement with SAI Global is now classified as “non-exclusive”- ending a fifteen-year monopoly.
The decision has been described as “a win for Australian businesses”, as it makes SAI Global’s 15-year exclusive publishing and distribution licence of Australian Standards redundant, and there is now a ‘fair’ way for Australian businesses - big and small - to gain access to standards.
The decision handed down by the arbitrator now allows Standards Australia to move beyond restrictions that have been in place since 2003, when SAI originally struck the deal.
"This means that Standards Australia can now take steps to move beyond the exclusive distribution agreements that have been in place since 2003," according to S.A.
Richard Brooks, Chairman of Standards Australia described the decision as an exciting opportunity that is sure to increase value and access to standards, whilst building new partnerships and encouraging new methods of delivery to customers.
“Improving every aspect of our work- from how we connect with contributors, to how we foster innovation and how we distribute our content has been a major part of our agenda.” Mr Brooks concluded.
“However, as the world of publishing changes, we must also change to continue our strong, positive contribution to the community and empower those who use our content.”
SIA Chief Executive, David Clarke has issued a statement welcoming the change and the removal of what he dubbed as uncompetitive, unfair arrangement.
“Standards are an important tool for Australian businesses in many ways, they place 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 has been the distribution monopoly. This announcement is the first step in seeing those costs come down.”
“This is not just about medium and large enterprises.” Mr Clarke said.
“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.”
We’re yet to see a confirmation of the finer-points of the agreement, however it is being reported that Standards Australia will soon initiate the transition process, and open up consultation with stakeholders to see how a future delivery method could improve the overall experience, in the hope to provide fair, universal access to the standards.
Bronwyn Evans, CEO of Standards Australia says that, “operating an open and transparent process is our core business. This is an opportunity to design a ‘Standards Australia’ of the future that relies on all interested stakeholders, whose support and contribution will be vital in the improvement and innovation in the distribution of Australian Standards.”
You can read Standards Australia's press release here.