Access to infrastructure services

Clause 6 of the Competition Principles Agreement provided for the establishment of a national regime to provide for third party access to services provided by significant monopoly infrastructure facilities, where access is necessary to permit effective competition in an upstream or downstream market.

The National Competition Policy Reform Act 1995 (Cth) introduced a new Part IIIA into the Trade Practices Act 1974 providing three routes through which a business can get access to the services of nationally significant monopoly infrastructure services.

A business can apply to the National Competition Council to have a service ‘declared’. If the designated Minister declares the service, the business can enter negotiation, supported by legally binding arbitration, with the infrastructure operator to determine the terms and conditions of access.

A business can use a state or territory access regime applying to a particular infrastructure service. Where that regime is certified as an ‘effective’ means of seeking access, then the service cannot be declared under the national access regime.

Where an infrastructure operator has made a voluntary access undertaking approved by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, a business can get access to the infrastructure service under the terms and conditions of that undertaking. An infrastructure service cannot be declared where there is an approved undertaking in place.

In 2001, the Productivity Commission undertook a review of the National Access Regime (Productivity Commission 2001, Report no. 17). The Australian Government’s response to this review was implemented via the Trade Practices Amendment (National Access Regime) Act 2006, which commenced in October 2006.

More information on access to infrastructure services, including on the procedure for making an application to the National Competition Council, is available on the access website of the National Competition Council.

Key access to infrastructure services documents on this site

  • The Hilmer Report
  • The Competition Principles Agreement (see clause 6)
  • The annual reports of the National Competition Council
  • Productivity Commission Review of the National Access Regime 2001