Internal scrutiny is undertaken via regular meetings of councillors (see above) and through the Council’s Audit Committee (Audit Committee).
Mechanisms for external scrutiny include: formal reviews of the National Access Regime and the NGL, and the role of the Council; legal mechanisms (courts and tribunals) for reviewing Ministers’ decisions following Council recommendations; and the Commonwealth Ombudsman. The Council is subject to external scrutiny more generally through its published recommendations to governments and through its processes for engaging with stakeholders.
The functions of the Council’s Audit Committee are to review and report to the Council on the appropriateness of the Council’s financial reporting, performance reporting, risk oversight and management, and systems of internal control. In the year under review, the Audit Committee comprised Councillor Martin Wallace (Chair of the Audit Committee) and independent members Chris Ramsden and Philip Mason (Assistant Secretary, Department of Communications).
The Audit Committee met on two occasions during 2018-19. On 23 August 2018 the Committee considered and recommended that the Council adopt the audited financial statements for 2017-18. The Committee received a report from the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) in relation to its audit of these financial statements.
In May 2019 the Committee considered the financial audit process for 2018-19, and reviewed the Council’s performance against its risk management plan and fraud control plan.
Legal mechanisms for reviewing National Competition Council decisions
Under both Part IIIA of the CCA and the NGL, an applicant or service provider may seek review of decisions (made in response to a recommendation from the Council) by the designated Commonwealth Minister or a state premier or a territory chief minister. The Australian Competition Tribunal is the review body for decisions on declaration and certification under Part IIIA of the CCA.1
Chapter 2 reports on the Council’s work relating to Part IIIA and the NGL, including any review proceedings.
Engagement with stakeholders
The Council’s third party access work requires it to engage with interested parties through a public consultation process. The Council maintains a website to assist this purpose. The Council’s actions to assist stakeholders are discussed in chapter 2.