Opening the ACCC / AER Regulatory Conference in Brisbane on Thursday, ACCC Chairman Rod Sims encouraged debate on achieving better regulatory outcomes and reducing regulatory burdens.
More than 400 delegates will attend the annual conference where international and local experts will discuss the big issues in the world of infrastructure regulation.
The two-day conference will cover issues such as:
- The trade-off between regulatory flexibility and certainty
- The use of benchmarking in regulatory determinations
- Net neutrality and lessons from the US experience
- Consumer engagement in the UK water sector, and
- Extending Australia’s competition law to government activity in trade or commerce.
As part of his welcome address, Mr Sims said the conference is set to challenge regulators on their understanding of good regulatory outcomes.
“Stakeholders can have very different perspectives. The main criticism of the ACCC, in everything we do, is that we don’t do enough and we should have greater powers and be more intrusive. We are constantly trying to explain why this is not the case.”
With new reporting requirements and frameworks in place, Mr Sims said the conference will also consider what constitutes good regulator performance.
“The new performance reporting requirements under the PGPA Act will increase transparency about the efficiency and effectiveness of regulators such as the ACCC and AER.”
“It is based on a clear input-output-outcome framework. That is, what is our funding? What do we ‘produce’ with it? And what do we achieve? How effective are we in enhancing the welfare of all Australians?”
Mr Sims said the ACCC will also be reporting under the new regulator performance framework, which commenced on 1 July.
“The framework establishes six outcomes-based key performance indicators that reflect sound principles of good regulatory practice.”
“If we do these six things well, then we will both reduce the regulatory burden, and make decisions and take regulatory actions that are effective in achieving our statutory objectives.”
The ACCC’s regulatory role covers areas such as airports and aviation, communications, energy (AER), fuel, waterfront and shipping, postal, rail and water markets.
The Chairman’s speech is available: Opening address: ACCC / AER Regulatory Conference
The Conference programme is available: ACCC/AER Regulatory Conference 2015