Consumer Action has provided comment on the exposure draft Statutes Amendment (National Electricity and Gas Laws—Limited Merits Review) Bill 2013. Our comments are aimed to ensure the legislation enacts the Statement of Policy Intent released by the Standing Council on Energy & Resources in December 2012, and the Decision Regulatory Impact Statement released in June 2013. Our comments also relate to the amendments to the National Electricity Law (NEL) the mirror provisions of the National Gas Law (NGL).
In summary, Consumer Action Suggest:
- the national electricity objective should be amended to include the words ‘in ways that best serve’ before ‘the long term interests of consumers’, as recommended by the Expert Panel;
- proposed section 16 of the NEL relating to the manner AER performs its functions and the definition of materially preferable decision in proposed section 71P should be amended to include the words ‘in ways that best serve the long term interests of consumers’;
- proposed section 28ZJ of the NEL relating to the record of reviewable regulatory decisions should be amended to clarify that the record kept is to be public;
- the words ‘sufficient interest’ should be removed from the definition of ‘reviewable regulatory decision process participant’ in section 71A of the NEL;
- section 71K should be amended so that user or consumer interveners do not have to seek leave to intervene if they participated in AER consultations on regulatory determinations;
- SCER should revisit its approach to restrictions on cost orders against user or consumer interveners, and provide the Tribunal with power to make protective cost orders; and
- SCER should include provisions in the NEL and/or Competition and Consumer Regulations 2010 to direct the Tribunal to perform its functions in an informal, consultative and investigatory way.
To read our full submission click: Limited merits review – consultation draft legislation.