The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued its Final Decision to accredit the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal of NSW (IPART) as the regulator of WaterNSW’s infrastructure charges in the Murray-Darling Basin. The decision will take effect from 1 June 2016 for a period of 10 years.

Until the ACCC took over the role under the Water Charge (Infrastructure) Rules 2010, IPART had previously set these charges.

“The ACCC’s decision will maximise the efficient use of government resources devoted to the management of Murray-Darling Basin water by providing for a single regulator for the determination of WaterNSW’s infrastructure charges. IPART, in approving or determining these charges, will help ensure sufficient revenue streams for the efficient delivery of regulated services”, ACCC Commissioner Cristina Cifuentes said.

The Water Charge (Infrastructure) Rules 2010 allow a state agency to apply to the ACCC for accreditation to carry out pricing approvals and determinations for Part 6 and Part 7 operators within the Basin state. In February 2012, the ACCC accredited the Essential Services Commission of Victoria (ESCV) to carry out this role in Victoria.

The Final Decision to accredit IPART is subject to the same conditions applied by the ACCC to the ESCV. The conditions are designed to achieve consistent regulatory approaches across the Murray-Darling Basin and to contribute to achieving the Basin water charging objectives and principles under the Water Act 2007.

The first condition requires IPART to apply pricing principles developed by the ACCC when making its decision and the second requires IPART, on request, to provide information to the ACCC to enable it to monitor and enforce the accreditation arrangements and the water charge rules.

Under a separate process, the ACCC is reviewing the water charge rules, including the rules governing accreditation.

For more information on the water charge rule review, see: Review of the water charge rules: advice development.