Review of the role of the Tasmanian Economic Regulator
The Regulator is an independent statutory body with responsibilities in relation to the Tasmanian electricity, gas and water and sewerage sectors, as well as investigations into pricing by the Motor Accidents Insurance Board, taxi fare methodology inquiries and investigating competitive neutrality complaints.
In 2014-15 the Department of Treasury and Finance conducted a review of the Economic Regulator Act 2009 to assess the scope of the Regulator’s functions to identify any potential reductions in regulatory costs for the Tasmanian community where the overall benefits exceed the costs. The review also sought feedback on a preferred structure for the Regulator which, at the time, comprised a three person panel. Treasury prepared a consultation paper which outlined a number of potential changes and sought public consultation.
The Economic Regulator Amendment Bill 2015 was introduced to Parliament on 25 March 2015 and received Royal Assent on 19 May 2015. The Act, which took effect on 1 July 2015, made the following key changes to the composition of the Regulator and to some of its roles and powers under the Economic Regulator Act 2009 and related legislation:
- a single person is appointed as Regulator and an Acting Regulator and Assistant Regulators can be appointed if required;
- the Regulator’s reporting burden is reduced; and
- the Regulator no longer undertakes Metro Tasmania prices oversight investigations, with the responsibility transferred to the Department of State Growth.
Despite the reductions in the Regulator’s reporting requirements, the Government will require the Regulator to continue to prepare annual State of the Industry Reports, which report on the performance of the water and sewerage industry and the energy sector, for the next three years.
The review also identified several other opportunities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Regulator’s role, which has been reflected in amendments to a number of Acts.