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About the National Competition Council

Role and functions

The National Competition Council (Council) is a Commonwealth statutory agency established by section 29A of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA). The Council was created in 1995 following agreement by the Council of Australian Governments, and is an independent research and advisory body for all Australian governments. Its functions and powers are set out in section 29B of the CCA.

The Council makes recommendations on applications for third party access to services provided by monopoly infrastructure under the National Access Regime in Part IIIA of the CCA and recommendations and decisions on applications made under the National Gas Law (NGL).[1]

[1] The Council’s third party access work is discussed in chapter 2.

Vision, purpose and mission

The Council’s vision is to help achieve outcomes that benefit the community as a whole by providing objective and constructive advice to governments. This incorporates building business and community understanding of third party access regulation.

The Council’s purpose is to:

· make recommendations under the National Access Regime in Part IIIA of the CCA, to relevant ministers in relation to applications for the declaration of services and also the certification of State or Territory access regimes, and

· make recommendations on the coverage of natural gas pipeline systems and decisions on the form of regulation (light or full), classification of pipelines (transmission or distribution) and recommending in relation to various exemptions for greenfields gas pipelines (Outcome 1).

Both the National Access Regime and the NGL seek to promote the efficient operation of, use of, and investment in significant bottleneck infrastructure, and to promote competition, efficiency and productivity in markets that depend on the use of services provided by significant bottleneck infrastructure facilities. This facilitates economic growth, employment growth, efficient resource use and improved social outcomes for all Australians.

The Council’s vision is embodied in its mission: ‘To improve the wellbeing of all Australians through growth, innovation and rising productivity, by promoting competition that is in the public interest’.

The Council’s Corporate Plan 2019-2020, published in August 2019, is available on the Council’s website.

Outcome and program

The Council has a single outcome with one contributing program. The Council’s outcome is competition in markets that are dependent on access to nationally significant monopoly infrastructure, through recommendations and decisions promoting the efficient operation of, use of and investment in infrastructure.

The Council’s program objective is to provide advice to governments and make decisions on infrastructure access issues that accord with statutory requirements (including time limits) and good regulatory practice, and ensure that advice meets requirements of decision making ministers. This helps ensure Australia achieves a consistent approach to access regulation that promotes the efficient operation of, use of and investment in infrastructure, thereby promoting effective competition.

The indicators for assessing the Council’s performance along with the targets and summary information on the Council’s work in 2019-2020 against those targets are set out in chapter 2 of this annual report (see Table 2-4). Chapter 2 also contains the Council’s report to the Australian Parliament on the operation of the National Access Regime, which is required under section 29O of the CCA.

Summary analysis of financial performance

The Australian Government funds the Council through budget appropriations. The Council received $1.700 million (excluding Departmental Capital Budget) in 2019-20 ($1.990 million in 2018-19).

The Council achieved an operating surplus of $718 679 in 2019-20 (surplus of $762 445 in 2018-19).

The Council’s net assets as at 30 June 2020 were $3.901 million (compared to $4.136 million at 30 June 2019).

Parties making applications under the NGL must pay a fee for applications regarding the access regulation (coverage) of natural gas pipelines and decisions on the classification of pipelines.[1] The fee is $7500 per coverage application and $2000 per classification application. Any application fees are remitted to the Official Public Account.

The Council received no application fees in 2019-20.

Table 3-1 summarises the financial resources used by the Council in 2019-20[2] while Table 3‑2 provides a summary of the resources used by the Council in performing its outcome in 2019-20 showing the variation against budget. The variation arose primarily because of lower than anticipated spending on legal and economic advisory services.

[1] No fees are payable in relation to applications for light regulation.

[2] See also the audited Financial Statements for 2019-20 (Chapter 4).

Table 3‑1 National Competition Council resource statement 2019-20

Available appropriations

($’000)

Payments made

($’000)

Balance remaining

($’000)

Agency appropriations

Prior year appropriation

3 985[1]

1 041

2 944

Current year appropriation

1 700

-

1 700

Total appropriation available

5 685

1 041

4 644[2]

Source: Portfolio Budget Statements 2019-20 and Financial Statements 2019-20.

Table 3‑2 Expense for outcome 1 for 2019-20

Budget

$’000

Actual expenses

$’000

Variation

$’000

Program 1.1─National Competition Council

Departmental outputs funded by appropriations

1 700

1 041

659

Average staffing level

1

1

Source: Portfolio Budget Statements 2019-20 and Financial Statements 2019-20

[1] Amount includes $49 733 cash at bank balance in 2018-19.

[2] Amount includes $50 026 cash at bank balance in 2019-20.