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Independent Regulators – AUSTRALIA – December 2019 OECD discussion


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This presentation by Australia was made during the discussion “Independent sector regulators and competition” held at the 68th meeting of the OECD Working Party No. 2 on Competition and Regulation on 2 December 2019. More papers and presentations on the topic can be found at

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Independent Regulators – AUSTRALIA – December 2019 OECD discussion

  1. 1. Independent Sector Regulation in Australia Marcus Bezzi, Executive General Manager OECD Working Party No. 2 on Competition and Regulation 2 December 2019
  2. 2. Outline • Specialisation • Competition and Economic Regulators in Australia • Independence • ACCC regulatory functions • Access regulation in Australia • Proposed regulatory functions in the digital economy
  3. 3. Specialisation • Competition law and economic regulation should operate in a complementary manner – both seek to deliver better outcomes for consumers. • Significant advantages for a competition agency to have specialist internal expertise in more complex industry sectors - eg, Energy, Transportation, Agriculture and water, Telecommunications, Financial Services. • Also significant advantages of working closely with specialist regulators, leverage respective agency’s industry knowledge
  4. 4. Competition and economic regulators in Australia Body ACCC relationship Australian Energy Regulator Cross appointments; Co-located, shared staffing resources, knowledge sharing, shared legal and economic expertise National Competition Council Co-located, shared staffing resources Australian Communications and Media Authority Cross appointments; high level regular meetings; Issue-related operational engagement AUSTRAC Issue-related operational engagement; regular staff meetings. Murray-Darling Basin Authority Issue related operational engagement, staff secondments Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority High level regular meetings; Issue-related operational engagement, staff secondments Reserve Bank of Australia Annual meetings, MOU, Issue-related operational engagement, staff secondments Australian Securities and Investments Commission High level regular meetings; MOU; Frequent operational engagement at all levels, staff secondments
  5. 5. Independence Advantages of a broad economy wide mandate and a diffuse set of stakeholders Risks presented by having a small group of powerful stakeholders
  6. 6. ACCC regulatory functions • determining prices and access terms/conditions for some nationally significant infrastructure • monitoring and enforcing industry-specific laws • monitoring and reporting on prices and quality of particular goods and services • disseminating information to help stakeholders understand regulatory frameworks and the structure and operation of infrastructure markets • providing advice regulatory advice to government • New role – Consumer Data Right
  7. 7. ACCC regulatory functions Communications Fuel Airports Energy Postal services Water Rail Waterfront Wheat export
  8. 8. Access regulation in Australia • ACCC regulates access to ‘declared services’ • Allows third parties to share the use of certain infrastructure services on reasonable terms and conditions • National Competition Council makes recommendations to government on whether a service should be declared • Australian Competition Tribunal can review declarations on request from affected parties • Declaration does not mean automatic access – still needs agreement with the provider or ACCC arbitration • Only the natural monopolies that meet ‘declaration criteria’ can be declared
  9. 9. Access Regulation in Australia • Declaration criteria for ‘facilities’: – Access must promote a material increase in competition in another market – Facility will be able to meet the foreseeable demand, at a lower cost than multiple facilities could – The facility is of national significance – Access would promote the public interest
  10. 10. Regulatory functions in the digital economy • Consumer Data Right • Existing regulatory functions in communications: – investigating claims of anti-competitive conduct in the communications sector – regulating access to the National Broadband Network and other declared communications services – monitoring and reporting on prices and competition in the communications sector • Interact with other communications regulators and industry organisations • Have also recommended additional regulatory measures in our Digital Platforms Inquiry
  11. 11. Proposed Regulation in the Digital Economy – ACCC recommendations Large platforms implement an industry code of conduct to govern the handling of complaints about disinformation on their services Creation of a specialised digital platforms branch within the ACCC with the power to monitor, investigate and report on digital platform markets Large platforms to each implement a code of conduct to govern their relationships with news media businesses. This includes governing the take-down processes of digital platforms operating in Australia
  12. 12. Digital Platforms Inquiry recommendations Overhaul of Australia’s privacy laws to introduce penalties for data breaches, strengthen rights related to consent, portability and erasure of data Australia’s information and privacy regulator to develop an enforceable code of practice in relation to information requirements, consent, opt out options, retention periods etc. Regulatory oversight of internal dispute resolution processes at large digital platforms, and creation of government ombudsman to resolve complaints