House of Representatives Committees

Standing Committee on Economics, Finance and Public Administration

Review of the National Competition Council annual report 1996-97

Press release, 15 February1998

NCC UNDER CLOSE SCRUTINY AGAIN BY PARLIAMENTARY COMMTTEE

The activities of the National Competition Council (NCC) will be examined again on Wednesday 25 February by the Financial Institutions Committee at a public hearing in Melbourne. The NCC is one of the key new competition agencies. It's role in competition policy is crucial - it advises the Commonwealth, States and Territories in implementing the competition reforms, as well as assessing their progress.

Committee Chairman, David Hawker MP, said 'Since the NCC's inception there has been ongoing basic concerns about its effectiveness. Questions continue to be asked about the dual role of the NCC as advisor and assessor; the way competition policy is being implemented; and the impact of competition policy, particularly in regional areas.'

While under its new President, Mr Graham Samuel, the NCC has achieved a higher profile and adopted a more open and collaborative approach to much of its work, the basic questions remain.

Mr Hawker said 'The Council's assessment role is of particular concern. In July last year all jurisdictions received full payments from the Commonwealth for their progress to date in implementing the reforms, despite gaps in performance in some areas. Some $406 million in 1997-98 are involved. This money was paid on the basis of the assessment recommendations made by the NCC. It is difficult to reconcile the confidence shown by the NCC in its assessment report and the somewhat pessimistic picture of reform now emerging from the NCC's most recent annual report.'

'In its annual report the NCC has pointed to slippage in almost all areas of competition reform and stresses the need to adjust the broader policy mix in some areas so that the potential benefits of competition reform can be fully realised and used well.'

'Public concerns remain rife about the NCP legislative review program. Despite the Committee's support for national reviews, the options and tone emerging from the NCC's recent work on the Australia Post review, does not instil confidence in regional Australia.'

Mr Hawker said 'Some of the matters that the Committee would address at the hearing include:

'Given the NCC's critical role in competition policy, its actions must be transparent and accountable. With the NCC's unique position of reporting to the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments as a group, its appearance before this Parliamentary Committee provides a rare opportunity for detailed public scrutiny' concluded Mr Hawker.

Ends // 15 February 1998 // Email: EFPA.Reps@aph.gov.au
Further information:
David Hawker MP (Chairman) (03) 5572 1100 (Electorate)
Bev Forbes (Inquiry Secretary) (02) 6277 4587

Public Hearing - Wednesday 25 February 1998

Meeting Room, Victorian Committee Offices
8th Floor
35 Spring Street
MELBOURNE

10.00am - 12.00nn National Competition Council

Mr Graham Samuel, President
Mr Ed Willett, Executive Director

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