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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (9 May) . . Page.. 1497 ..

The Council is listed in the 2002 ACT White Pages Telephone Directory under the name of the predecessor body, the Essential Services Review Committee. The Committee Secretariat is aware of this and the listing will be changed in the 2003 White Pages. Canberra Connect is aware of the role of the Council and refers inquiries accordingly.

(4) Consumers have a number of options in relation to resolving problems with interruptions of utility services, including electricity. These include

the utility;

the ESCC;

the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission (ICRC); and

the courts.

The Consumer Protection Code under the Utilities Act 2000 provides that a utility must develop, maintain and implement complaints and dispute resolution procedures in accordance with Australian Standards. In its final decision on a complaint, a utility must advise the complainant of his/her right to refer the complaint to the ESCC if the complainant is not satisfied with the utility's response.

Before approaching the ESCC, a complainant should have made reasonable efforts to resolve the matter with the utility in accordance with the utility's complaint handling procedures.

The dispute resolution service provided by the ESCC is much cheaper, less time-consuming and less formal than that of the courts. For example, the service provided by the ESCC is free of charge and legal representation is not required.

The ICRC has the authority to investigate and give directions to a utility under the Act if the interruptions to supply can be attributed to a systemic failure on the part of the utility to comply with the standards and requirements prescribed under its licensing conditions.

(5) If a complaint is lodged with the ESCC, the Council has the authority to give directions to the utility to remedy the matter, which includes compensation for the loss and damage suffered by the complainant up to an amount of $10,000.

If significant systemic problems persist without appropriate responses from the relevant utility, in extreme cases the ICRC could revoke the utility's licence for breaches of licence conditions.

If an action is taken to a court, the ultimate authority that is responsible for making decisions to address the complaint and compensation claim is the final appellate body available, which depends on the legal issues involved.

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