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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 6 Hansard (9 June) . .

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This bill implements in legislation those reforms from the Grant review in which regulated pricing services are delivered by the commission and makes a number of procedural changes, some for improved clarity, such as improving clarity of regulatory periods and what happens when a price direction is not handed down before the end of a pricing period. It also has a number of changes that apply to how reviews of pricing decisions can occur.

The bill allows for an individual consumer or a group of consumers to make an application for a review of a price direction by an industry panel, with each party to the review to bear its own costs, something that was recommended by the Grant review. It includes a new section that outlines the grounds on which a review can be requested. In regards to an industry panel, the bill requires the appointment of any future industry panel to undergo scrutiny by the Assembly.

Madam Speaker, the Greens support these reforms to the processes around the ICRC and are happy to support this bill today as we believe it will avoid some of the problems that have occurred in the past.

MR BARR (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Tourism and Events and Minister for Urban Renewal) (8.16), in reply: I thank members for their support. The bill of course represents the key outcome of the extensive process that has been undertaken to reconsider the administrative and legislative framework in which the regulated pricing services are delivered by the ICRC.

Central to the amendments in the bill are important revisions to the legislative framework that govern applications for review of a price direction handed down by the commission. As members have indicated, the Grant review recommended that significant changes be made to the review regime to ensure a balance is achieved between providing appropriate access to applications for review and the need for reviews to only occur where an applicant can demonstrate serious matters and/or problems within the price direction.

To achieve this outcome, the bill incorporates amendments that would establish a review mechanism under which applications can only be lodged on the basis of a restricted range of potential grounds for review, rather than the current broad basis on which an application can be lodged. To support this revised approach, the bill also incorporates amendments to create a formal preliminary assessment stage within the review process.

These changes will enable an industry panel to better tailor the nature of its review to match the scope and complexity of the issues raised within an application for review. They will also provide an industry panel with the ability to dismiss an application during the early stages of a review process if the panel is not satisfied that there is a strong case for a full review to be undertaken. These amendments will improve the proportionality of the review regime and assist in ensuring that the cost and time needed to complete a review can be minimised.


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