The Commission’s public inquiry should assess the impact (both transitional and ongoing) of the competition policy and related reforms introduced by the Commonwealth, State, Territory and local governments under the three intergovernmental agreements signed in April 1995 — the Competition Principles Agreement, the Conduct Code Agreement and the Agreement to Implement the National Competition Policy and Related Reforms .
These agreements followed an Independent Committee of Inquiry into National Competition Policy that reported to Commonwealth, State and Territory Heads of Government in August 1993 (the Hilmer Report).
In undertaking the inquiry the Commission should have regard to the established economic, social, environmental, and regional development objectives of Australian governments. Consideration should be given to other influences on the evolution of markets in regional and rural Australia, including the role of international trade, foreign investment and globalisation generally.
The Commission should specifically report on:
(a) the impact of competition policy reforms on the structure, competitiveness and regulation of major industries and markets supplying to and supplied by regional and rural Australia;
(b) the economic and social impacts on regional and rural Australia (including on small businesses and local governments) of the changes to market structure, competitiveness and regulation flowing from the reforms and the effect of these impacts and changes on the wider Australian economy;
(c) possible differences between regional and metropolitan Australia in the nature and operation of major markets and in the economic and social impacts of the reforms promoted by national competition policy; and
(d) any measures which should be taken to facilitate the flow of benefits (or to mitigate any transitional costs or negative impacts) arising from competition policy reforms to residents and businesses in regional and rural Australia.