The Australian Government has directed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to commence a 12 month public inquiry into the competitiveness of wholesale gas prices in Eastern and Southern Australia.

“The ACCC will be considering competition levels on the East Coast upstream gas market - the producer, processor, pipeline, and wholesale levels of the market.  The inquiry does not cover retail,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“As Australia’s competition regulator, we are well suited to undertake this task.”

By holding an inquiry under Part VIIA of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, the ACCC can use compulsory information gathering powers to get the information required to assess whether insufficient competition is driving up prices.

“Previous inquiries have been hampered significantly by a lack of information. For example, conflicting accounts by industry players on whether gas is being made available, and at competitive prices,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“The ACCC has the tools available to gain the information that is essential to complete the task given to us.”

The ACCC will be distributing an Issues Paper in May on matters relevant to the inquiry, and will be calling for public submissions.  The ACCC will also be conducting public and private hearings.

In accordance with provisions in the Act, the ACCC will give notice that the inquiry is being held by publishing the attached notice in the Gazette and in newspapers circulating in states and territories once the formal direction is given.

Information about the inquiry will be available on the ACCC website, including the consultation process and key documents such as the issues paper

This inquiry is due to report to the Government by April 2016.

See also: ACCC inquiry into Eastern and Southern Australian wholesale gas prices