The following guidance is not intended to constrain or limit the information a government body may wish to provide in support of its public benefit assessment. It simply outlines the minimum details that should be provided to demonstrate that the appropriate policy and stakeholder considerations have formed part of the assessment of net public benefit.
1. Describe the nature of the significant business activity
As a preliminary step, the government body should identify any public camping facilities that fall within the market share threshold that have special or unique circumstances that may result in the site not being a substitute, or being a very weak substitute, for facilities provided by commercial caravan park operators in the market. If the government body can demonstrate that a particular site is not a substitute, or is a very weak substitute, for the commercial provider's service, the anti‑competitive harm on the commercial operator of not applying cost reflecting pricing is likely to be lower. This is a factor that can be included in a public benefit assessment on whether to apply cost reflective pricing at that particular site.
Clearly identify the policy objective for undertaking a public camping business activity
Policy objectives refer to those which are endorsed by the Government, a Minister or a local government body. Supporting documentation could be in the form of a Ministerial policy statement or a formal resolution of a local government.
This section is the public policy justification for why a government body considers it is appropriate to provide public camping facilities.
- Setting up a dump station to prevent tourists from dumping sewage on land, in stormwater drains or in waterways.
- Providing an off-road safe location for RV and caravan parking to prevent tourists parking on the roadside in dangerous places, in front of residences or where they cause traffic congestion.
Identify all affected stakeholders and their interests/concerns
In the context of public camping, affected stakeholders are likely to include (but are not limited to):
- the public (ratepayers, local residents and visitors);
- commercial caravan park operators;
- local businesses, including tourism/hospitality businesses, grocers and other retailers, service providers; and
When identifying stakeholder interests and concerns, it is important to link stakeholder interests with the policy objectives that are addressed by undertaking the public camping activity (for example public safety or environmental protection), the benefits created (for example, tourism attraction, increased competition and consumer choice, economic development and local employment or tourism spending) and any adverse or negative impacts, such as the anti‑competitive detriment to commercial caravan parks. Where negative impacts are identified, the analysis should include any steps taken or proposed to be taken to minimise or eliminate these impacts.
Details of public consultation and market research undertaken
Public consultation, both general and targeted towards affected stakeholders, is a mandatory component of any public benefit assessment. The public consultation should be carried out for the purpose of the public benefit assessment, rather than a general consultation intended for another purpose.
As the public benefit assessment will be made publicly available, the preparing government body must consider that it will be publicly accountable for the appropriateness of the public consultation. This component of the public benefit assessment should detail the method of consultation undertaken, including how it was advertised, how submissions and feedback were received, whether a public meeting or hearing was held, and a summary of the feedback/submissions received and how this was considered in the development of the final decision regarding the public camping activity.
Demonstrate that achievement of the stated policy objective would be jeopardised if full cost attribution pricing was implemented.
- Charging a fee for the use of a dump station may disincentivise the use of the facility and thereby do nothing to prevent pollution.
- Charging a fee for public camping may disincentivise the use of the public camping facilities, thereby failing to achieve the objective of preventing overnight parking in undesired locations.
Determine the best available means of achieving the overall policy objectives, including an assessment of alternative approaches.
In this assessment, the government body should identify other means of achieving the overall policy objectives, including the proposed option of providing or facilitating public camping, and assess the relative merits of the alternative approaches. The determination of the best available means may involve a qualitative assessment of the priorities assigned to – and by implication, the trade-offs arising from – the competing policy objectives.
- Alternative approaches to stop pollution may be to issue environmental notices, infringement notices or introduce by-laws to prevent tourists from dumping sewage on land, in stormwater drains or in waterways. Assessments of each option might reveal that one or another is cheaper or more expensive to implement, or more or less effective to monitor and enforce.
- Introducing and enforcing parking restrictions in certain locations to prevent problem parking or by-laws to restrict the occupation of RVs and caravans in public places could be alternative options to providing public camping. Both options may be cheaper than establishing and maintaining camping facilities and would alleviate the need to apply competitive neutrality principles. Alternatively, the cost of implementing cost reflective pricing and employing staff to monitor the grounds and collect fees could outweigh the benefits of neutralising the competitive advantage of providing free camping, whereas prohibiting parking and not providing an alternative may deter visitors from the area altogether.
The public benefit assessment should be undertaken in consultation with the affected community, including businesses that would be adversely affected by unfair competition, through an open and transparent process.
The government body is best placed to determine, on a case-by-case basis, the level, nature or scope of the consultation having regard to the complexity of the issues and the impact on the community.
The public benefit assessment should demonstrate sufficiently how the government body has taken into account the feedback received from its consultation.
At the conclusion of the consultation, the processes and outcomes of the consultation should be documented through an updated public benefit assessment and be made publicly available. Information that is commercial-in-confidence may be excluded, provided a statement specifying reasons to support the claim is noted in the public documentation.
The public consultation process will provide the government body with valuable information to ensure the best overall policy option is identified to achieve the objective.