We welcome the opportunity to comment on the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee’s (Committee) Inquiry into the Competition and Consumer Amendment (Abolition of Limited Merits Review) Bill 2017 (Inquiry).
We support the Bill and its timely passage. In the last ten years electricity prices have doubled, with network costs being the single biggest contributor. Given concerns that Australian households and small businesses are now facing further significant price increases, it is critical that the review framework is reformed to ensure that network costs are not higher than they need to be.
Energy Consumers Australia helped fund the Public Interests Advocacy Centre’s (PIAC) appeal of the New South Wales Networks decision, and supported the South Australian Council of Social Services and the Consumer Utilities Advocacy Centre engagement in review processes. We also directly participated in the most recent round of appeals, giving evidence at the Australian Competition Tribunal’s community consultations in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne in 2016.
We are hopeful that the abolition of the Limited Merits Review Framework (LMR) will signal the end of a costly and counter-productive period in network regulation. The frequent, almost routine, appeals of network revenue determinations in recent years undermined the authority of the Australian Energy Regulator (AER).
The full submission including full citations can be read here.