I have today decided to declare the Hamersley, Goldsworthy and Robe railway lines in the Pilbara region of Western Australia under the National Access Regime in Part IIIA of the Trade Practices Act 1974.
Declaration under Part IIIA of the Trade Practices Act is designed to facilitate third party access to nationally significant infrastructure and promote competition through the efficient operation of, and investment in, infrastructure.
The Pilbara Infrastructure Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Fortescue Metals Group Ltd, applied to the National Competition Council (NCC) for declaration of the following Pilbara rail services:
On consideration of the evidence presented, the NCC determined that all relevant matters for declaration are satisfied and therefore recommended the services be declared.
I accept the NCC's recommendations and I am declaring the services above for a period of 20 years commencing on 19 November 2008.
Some parties raised concerns regarding the potential costs arising from third party access. However, on balance I consider that these are outweighed by a range of benefits, including increased competition, avoiding inefficient duplication of facilities and reducing further adverse impacts on native title rights and the environment.
I also note that declaration does not automatically provide a right of access. It provides a third party with recourse to binding arbitration before the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), if it is unable to agree with the service provider on access terms and conditions. The ACCC has the power to impose access terms and conditions, or to refuse access if it finds that the service providers cannot be appropriately compensated.
I would like to express my appreciation to all those who contributed to the NCC's consultation process. The declarations, my statements of reasons and the NCC's final recommendations are available on the NCC's website (www.ncc.gov.au).
27 October 2008