The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has released its issues paper seeking submissions on possible amendments to the Commonwealth water charge rules.
The water charge rules regulate the charges imposed upon water market participants in the Murray-Darling Basin.
“The Murray-Darling Basin has one of the most developed water markets in the world. The importance of rural water markets cannot be underestimated in the context of the Australian economy,” ACCC Commissioner Cristina Cifuentes said.
“Water markets in turn rely upon efficient and transparent charges for water infrastructure access and use.”
Throughout 2014, an independent panel reviewed the Water Act 2007 and recommended that the ACCC undertake a review of the water charge rules made under the Act. The Government accepted this recommendation and requested the ACCC’s advice upon possible amendments to the water charge rules.
The ACCC’s review will consider a range of issues, including:
- the consistency of water charging regimes across the Murray-Darling Basin;
- the appropriateness of the tiered regulatory approach for infrastructure charges;
- how the water charge rules could apply to any charges imposed by intergovernmental entities such as the Murray-Darling Basin Authority;
- opportunities to improve regulatory clarity and efficiency; and
- opportunities to reduce costs to industry and governments.
“The ACCC is seeking input from irrigators, infrastructure operators, Basin States, and other interested parties. By making a submission on the questions set out in the issues paper, interested parties can help inform our review of the rules and our advice on possible amendments” Ms Cifuentes said.
“The ACCC has been monitoring water charges since 2009 and will draw on this to inform its review.”
The ACCC will publish its fifth Water Monitoring Report in mid-May.
The ACCC is seeking submissions on matters set out in the issues paper and on the water charge rules more generally. Submissions should be provided to the ACCC by Friday 26 June 2015. A copy of the issues paper, which includes details on how to make a submission, is available here: Review of the water charge rules: advice development.
The ACCC is also planning a series of public forums in irrigation communities across the Basin during July and August; details will be posted on the ACCC’s website in coming weeks. Following this consultation, the ACCC will release its draft advice (including draft rule amendments) for further public consultation. The ACCC will deliver its final advice (including proposed rule amendments) in December 2015.
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