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This subject provides students with a sophisticated understanding of the economic theory and principles underpinning the regulation of utility infrastructure and services such as telecommunications, gas, electricity, rail, airports and ports. Such regulation often determines the level of competition, the prices paid by consumers and the returns to investors in these industries. The subject examines in detail the access regimes in the Australian Competition and Consumer Act (2010), and how they have been practically applied. Drawing comparisons with the experience in this field in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, it explores how regulators and the courts have determined which services should be subject to regulation and what principles and processes regulators have used to set terms and conditions (including prices) for these services. The lecturers in the subject comprise an economist and a lawyer with over 25 years’ combined experience working for competition regulators, the courts, regulated entities and economic consulting and legal firms representing both infrastructure access-seekers and access-providers on regulatory issues.
Principal topics include:
- Underlying economic principles and policy intention behind third party access and utility infrastructure regimes in Australia and other overseas jurisdictions
- Outline of third party access regimes in Part IIIA and Part XIC of the Competition and Consumer Act (2010)
- Consideration of previous and ongoing examples of the application of access regimes in Australia and other overseas jurisdictions
- Legal and economic meaning of key terms and expressions in access regimes (e.g. promotion of competition, efficient use/operation of infrastructure/facilities and legitimate business interests of access provider)
- Assessment of whether legislative frameworks and administrative and enforcement approaches are well designed to achieve the regulatory objectives of third party access and utility infrastructure regimes
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have an advanced and sophisticated understanding of the economic theory and principles behind the regulation of third-party access regimes
- Have a detailed knowledge of the current legislation relevant to third-party access regimes in the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) (the CCA)
- Have an advanced understanding of the economic and legal meaning of key considerations and legislative criteria associated with utility regulation and access regimes (e.g. promotion of competition, economically efficient use and operation of facilities and infrastructure, and legitimate business interests of an access provider etc.)
- Have an advanced understanding of the relevant regulatory and case law history associated with the declaration of services, and the setting of prices in relation to declared services associated with third-party access regimes in Australia
- Be able to critically andalyse and compare the regimes as they operate under Part IIIA (general access)and Part XIC (telecommuniations) of the CCA
- Be able to apply in a sophisticated way the practice and procedure associated with declaration application considerations, access price undertaking assessments and arbitration determinations
- Be able to form and argue cogently views on ‘gaming’ of third-party access regimes.
Last updated: 12 November 2022