The ports access and price regulation regime is established and defined by the Ports Management Act (the Act) and Ports Management Regulations (the Regulations). The Commission is the regulator for Part 11 (Port Access and Pricing) of the Act, and regulates services prescribed in the regulations by a private port operator of a designated port through the Utilities Commission Act.

The Commission commenced its role in port access and price regulation of the Port of Darwin on 16 November 2015 upon an agreement being signed in October 2015 appointing Darwin Port Operations Pty Ltd as the private port operator. 

In undertaking its regulatory functions, the Commission will adhere to the legislative and regulatory requirements under the Act and Regulations, and its functions under the Utilities Commission Act

Prescribed services in Regulation 12 of the Regulations are:   

  1. a) providing, or allowing for, access for vessels to the designated port;

  2. b) providing facilities for loading or unloading vessels at the designated port;

  3. c) providing berths for vessels at the designated port;

  4. d) providing, or facilitating the provision of, pilotage services in a pilotage area within the designated port; and

  5. e) allowing entry of persons and vehicles to any land on which port facilities of the designated port are located.


Commission's Review of the Regime


The Commission is required to review the port access and pricing regime in accordance with section 123 of the Act in three years from the appointment of a private operator, and in each successive five-year period thereafter.

In undertaking a review of whether there is an ongoing need for regulatory oversight and whether there is a need to change the form of regulatory oversight, the Commission will take into account the access and pricing principles specified in section 133 of the Act, which include that the price of prescribed services is expected to generate revenue sufficient to meet efficient costs of providing the service, and the functions of the Commission in accordance with section 6(2) of the Utilities Commission Act, which requires that the Commission have regard to the need to promote economic efficiency, ensure an appropriate rate of return on regulated industries and the interests of consumers.

The Commission’s role in port regulation is broadly divided into two categories: