Legislation review and reform

The legislation review and reform program was a commitment under clause 5 of the Competition Principles Agreement.

The Australian Government and all state and territory governments undertook to identify their existing legislation that restricted competition, and to review, and where appropriate, reform that legislation. Under clause 7 of the Competition Principles Agreement, states and territories agreed to apply this reform at local government level.

All reviews and reforms were to be completed by 2000─later extended by the Council of Australian Governments to 2005.

The guiding review and reform principle (in clause 5(1) of the Competition Principles Agreement) was that legislation should not restrict competition unless the benefits of the restriction to the community as a whole outweighed the costs and the objectives of the legislation can only be achieved by restricting competition.

As well as reviewing/reforming existing legislation, governments also undertook to have evidence to show that new legislation that restricts competition is consistent with the guiding review and reform principle (clause 5(5)).

In 1996 each government developed a review timetable. These timetables identified in total about 1800 pieces of legislation. The identified legislation covered a wide range of topics. Governments also issued a policy statement that addressed the application of this principle to local governments.

Governments published annual reports addressing their progress against the legislation review and reform commitment, over the period of the National Competition Policy.

Where a review had a national dimension, the government responsible for the review could consider whether a national approach was appropriate. There were several areas where legislation with a national dimension was considered via a national approach.

Because the review of such a large number of laws was an extensive task, the National Competition Council agreed that for purposes of assessing progress with reform implementation, the legislation should be prioritised on the basis of its likely effects on competition. Priority legislation was to be subjected to comprehensive review processes and other legislation to desktop assessments.

Each of the National Competition Council's progress assessments considered legislation review and reform issues. The National Competition Council issued review guidelines to assist governments and others involved in reviews of legislation.

There was a related commitment under the Agreement to Implement the National Competition Policy and Related Reforms. This was a commitment by governments to set national standards in accord with the Principles and guidelines for National Standard Setting and Regulatory Action and advice from the (then Office of Regulation Review) on compliance with these principles. The Office of Regulation Review reported annually on compliance.

Key legislation review documents on this site

This site provides the following key documents relevant to the legislation review and reform commitment:

  • The Hilmer Report
  • The Competition Principles Agreement (see clause 5)
  • Governments’ 1996 legislation review schedules, by jurisdiction
  • State and territory governments’ 1996 local government policy statements, by jurisdiction
  • Governments’ annual National Competition Policy reports, by jurisdiction, over the period of the National Competition Policy
  • Governments’ legislation review reports (specific legislation topics by jurisdiction)
  • National Competition Council progress assessment reports (annual, supplementary and deferred assessments)
  • National Competition Council legislation review compendium (summarising all governments’ review schedules and progress with review and reform)
  • National Competition Policy legislation review guidelines (Centre for International Economics, February 1999)
  • Office of Regulation Review reports on compliance with national standard setting