He made the comments after attending a tribunal hearing in New South Wales, where surfwear retailer Spuds Surf was accusing Westfield Group of unconscionable conduct, for the way it was treated as tenant at the Chatswood Chase Shopping Centre.
Spuds Surf occupied three adjacent shops within the centre, under the impression no kiosks would be developed, which would obstruct its view from within the shopping centre. However a number of kiosks were set up, which Spuds Surf director Elizabeth Mimis-Weeks says has affected trade.
It is also alleged Westfield favoured other tenants, over Spuds Surf, and later tried to evict Spuds to secure a tenancy to rival surfwear retailer, City Beach.
Mr Joyce said the Rudd government needs to acknowledge “the complete disparity of bargaining positions in the marketplace. Especially in places like shopping centres.”
Independent senator Nick Xenaphon launched a senate inquiry into the definition of unconsonscionable conduct last year, the Australian Financial Review reports.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says unconscionable conduct has occurred “when a party has been taken advantage of in a way that offends the conscience”.
The Spuds Surf hearing has been stood over until September 14.