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Government accepts Senate Committee recommendation on National Access Regime Bill.



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NO.027

GOVERNMENT ACCEPTS SENATE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION ON NATIONAL ACCESS REGIME BILL

Today the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, the Hon Chris Pearce MP, announced the Government’s response to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee’s report to the Senate, Provisions of the Trade Practices Amendment (National Access Regime) Bill 2005, released on 8 September 2005.

The Bill implements the Government’s final response to the Productivity Commission’s Review of the National Access Regime, which made a number of recommendations for improvements to the regime.

The Committee made two recommendations in its report:

Recommendation 1: The Bill be amended so that the pricing principles are included in the Bill itself, rather than introducing them through a subordinate legislative instrument.

Recommendation 2: Subject to the Government introducing the amendment outlined in Recommendation 1, the Senate pass the Bill. Pricing principles will guide the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission when it arbitrates disputes over the terms and conditions of access to services ‘declared’ under Part IIIA, and when it considers whether to accept proposed access undertakings and access codes.

The Government accepts Recommendation 1. The Committee’s recommendation provides additional certainty to those who use Part IIIA of the Act by implementing pricing principles in the Bill rather than by legislative instrument.

The Government will propose amendments when the Bill is debated in the House of Representatives to give effect to the Committee’s recommendation. These amendments will provide that the pricing principles are inserted into Part IIIA of the Trade Practices Act. The Committee’s report noted that most submissions were supportive of the wording of the pricing principles, which were announced by the Government in its final response to the Productivity Commission review, and were keen to have them included in the regime.

The Government also welcomes Recommendation 2 in the Committee’s report, that the Senate pass the Bill subject to the proposed amendment to the method of implementing the pricing principles. The report notes that submissions to the Committee’s inquiry were supportive of the Bill.

The Government’s response to the Productivity Commission’s report on the National Access Regime is available on the Treasurer's website: http://www.treasurer.gov.au

CANBERRA 14 September 2005

Contact: Gillian Harvey 03 9887 3890

© Commonwealth of Australia 2000