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Chris Pearce

Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer

26 October 2004 - 3 December 2007

Media Release of 02/06/2005

NO.018

IMPROVEMENTS TO THE NATIONAL ACCESS REGIME

Today the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, the Hon Chris Pearce MP, introduced into Parliament a set of reforms to enhance the effectiveness of the National Access Regime. The National Access Regime seeks to promote competition in the economy by promoting the efficient investment in, and use of, infrastructure facilities of national significance.

The Regime was established in 1995 as part of the National Competition Policy Agreements between the Australian Government and state and territory governments. It provides an avenue by which firms can seek access to services provided through infrastructure facilities owned and operated by others.

At the request of the Government, the Productivity Commission conducted an inquiry into the operation of the National Access Regime. The Commission’s report recommended that the National Access Regime be retained, and made 33 recommendations for improvements to it.

“The Trade Practices Amendment (National Access Regime) Bill 2005, introduced into Parliament today, implements the Government’s final response to the Productivity Commission’s report. The Government accepted almost all of the Commission’s recommendations.

“The amendments to the National Access Regime are aimed at achieving four key outcomes. The reforms:

  • will encourage more efficient investment in and operation of infrastructure, and particularly in relation to new investment in essential infrastructure.
  • will provide greater certainty for access providers and access seekers about the situations in which access regulation might apply under the existing regime, and the likely outcomes.
  • establish more timely and, in turn, less costly regulatory procedures. For example, target time limits will be applied to the Regime’s various decision-making processes, and changes are being made to expedite the process of granting extensions of certain decisions under the Regime.
  • enhance, through a range of measures, the accountability of decision makers regarding access decisions under the Regime. This includes the introduction of merits review for decisions on proposed access undertakings by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and requirements for decision makers to publish reasons for their recommendations and decisions”, Mr Pearce said.

The Productivity Commission’s report on the Review of the National Access Regime is available at:

http://www.pc.gov.au/inquiry/access/index.html.

The Government’s response to the Productivity Commission’s report is available at:

http://www.treasurer.gov.au/tsr/content/publications/finalreport_nationalaccessregime.asp.

CANBERRA
2 June 2005

Contact:
Gillian Harvey 03 9887 3890 or 0411 567 060