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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 3566 ..

. Mr Speaker, you will recall that in June this year the Assembly asked me to come back in August with a model for an independent council to "monitor, review and make recommendations to the Assembly on all aspects of the implementation of National Competition Policy".

. On 27 August 1998 I outlined to the Assembly the government's preferred model for such a council, which was based on the existing Independent Pricing and Regulatory Commission, or IPARC.

. I am happy to say that the Standing Committee for the Chief Minister's Portfolio has examined that model, and in its report tabled on 29 October, broadly endorsed the direction of the government's preferred model, with some suggested alternations.

. The government response I am tabling today picks up some of the committee's recommendations and I think represents a workable compromise.

. The most significant area of difference is on the size of the proposed Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission (ICRC).

. The committee suggested a five member commission, which the government believes would be too expensive, too large for the size of our jurisdiction and too prescriptive given the evolving role of the regulator.

. The extra cost is considerable. It is estimated at an extra $100,000 per annum for each additional commissioner, when extra staffing and support costs, as well as payments to the commissioner are taken into account.

. However, we have moved from our original proposal of a single part-time commissioner, to accept the merit of three part time commissioners which would broaden the range of expertise, experience and qualifications.

. This is also consistent with the Statement of Regulatory Intent which I tabled last month. That statement outlined a new structure to improve the regulation of utilities in the ACT.

. It included an expanded role for IPARC, and an increase from a single part-time commissioner to a three member commission.

. Mr Speaker, on the issues of reporting arrangements and appointments, while the government agrees that the work of the proposed ICRC should be brought to the attention of the public and the Assembly, the buck stops with the government and the commission should continue to report to the government.

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