The ACCC says bigger fines for big business could help change corporate culture.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman Rod Sims has outlined the need for stronger penalties for big business to change corporate culture and improve the treatment of consumers.

New laws tabled in Parliament could see the penalty for consumer breaches by a company rise from $1.1 million to $10 million, or 10 per cent of turnover, and fines for individuals increased from $220,000 to $500,000.

“We really need much larger penalties for big companies when they mislead consumers as this can cause a lot of consumer harm and it has to be stopped,” Mr Sims said.

“For larger companies, we really need penalties of well above $100 million for those companies to get the message that this is behaviour that they should not be engaged in.”

While consumer breach penalties are in line to be strengthened, Mr Sims concedes the competition regulator has not been hard enough on companies in past competition cases.

“I am happy to admit that we haven't done enough on our side,” he said.

“We may have in the past settled too many cases on the basis of low penalties.”

The ACCC has asked the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to compare Australia's penalties with those overseas.

The ACCC intends to use the report to push for greater financial penalties.

“We will use that comparison to see what we can do to get much higher penalties when companies breach competition law, whether that is cartel behaviour, misuse of market power or anti-competitive agreements,” Mr Sims said.

“Our job is to make sure that we don't settle cases unless the penalty is appropriate, and our job is to argue before the courts that with the change in the law, we really need to be having penalties that are larger than before.”