The final report from a review into Australia’s national competition policy has been released, making 56 recommendations.

The review, by economist Ian Harper, recommended reforms across three key themes: Competition policy, laws and institutions.

It proposes the establishment of an Australian Council for Competition Policy (ACCP) with a mandate to provide leadership and drive implementation of the evolving competition policy agenda.

The ACCP would replace the National Competition Council (NCC) which would be abolished.

Referring to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Professor Harper recommended half of the ACCC Commissioners be appointed on a part-time basis.

“This could occur as the terms of the current Commissioners expire, with every second vacancy filled with a part-time appointee. The Chair could be appointed on either a full-time or a part-time basis, and the positions of Deputy Chair should be abolished,” Professor Harper said.

Review makes 56 recommendations

“The ACCC should establish, publish and report against a Code of Conduct for its dealings with the media with the aim of strengthening the perception of its impartiality in enforcing the law.”

He said the Code of Conduct should be developed with reference to the principles outlined in the 2003 Review of the Competition Provisions of the Trade Practices Act.

The report recommended that a number of regulatory functions should be transferred from the ACCC, the Australian Energy Regulator and the NCC and be undertaken within a single national Access and Pricing Regulator.

These included the telecommunications access and pricing functions of the ACCC; price regulation and related advisory roles of the ACCC under the Water Act 2007; the powers given to the ACCC under the National Access Regime and the functions undertaken by the Australian Energy Regulator under the National Electricity Law, the National Gas Law and the National Energy Retail Law.

Also transferred should be the powers given to the NCC under the National Access Regime and those given it under the National Gas Law.

The report said the Access and Pricing Regulator should be constituted as a five-member board comprising two Australian Government-appointed members, two State and Territory-nominated members and an Australian Government-appointed Chair.

The full report can be accessed at this PS News link.

Extracted in full from PS News.