The Government is seeking stakeholder views on exposure draft legislation to amend the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 to improve the timeliness of processes under the National Access Regime (the Regime).
Announced in the 2021-22 Budget, these reforms are intended to improve the timeliness of processes under the Regime in three key areas.
Firstly, the proposed amendments will remove the availability of merits review by the Australian Competition Tribunal (Tribunal) of Ministerial decisions to declare, not to declare, or not to revoke a declaration of an infrastructure service. Merits review by the Tribunal will remain available for other decisions under the Regime including arbitration decisions made by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Secondly, the proposed amendments will limit new applications for declaration, or recommendations to revoke declaration, where the relevant infrastructure service has been the subject of a previous declaration or revocation process. The Bill provides that a subsequent application may only be made if ten years have passed, or if there has been a material change of circumstances.
Finally, the proposed amendments will terminate arbitration proceedings and determinations where the relevant infrastructure is no longer declared (that is, where the underlying declaration expires or is revoked).
Further detail is contained within the draft explanatory materials.