The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued a draft decision to accredit the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal of NSW (IPART) as the regulator of water infrastructure charges in the NSW Murray-Darling Basin from 1 June 2016 for 10 years. IPART had previously set the charges applying in the Murray-Darling Basin until 30 June 2014.

“The arrangements established by the ACCC’s draft decision to accredit IPART will provide regulatory certainty for stakeholders. They will also maximise the efficient use of government resources devoted to the management of Murray-Darling Basin water,” ACCC Commissioner Cristina Cifuentes said.

“The ACCC is seeking submissions from the public on this draft decision by 26 August 2015.”

The water charge (infrastructure) rules 2010 (WCIR) 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).

The draft 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 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.

Currently, 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: Water charge (infrastructure) rules: advice development

The ACCC is seeking submissions on the draft decision to accredit IPART, including the proposed conditions and the date on which accreditation is proposed to take effect. Submissions should be provided to the ACCC by Wednesday 26 August 2015. A copy of the draft decision, which includes details on how to make a submission, is available here: IPART application for accreditation under the water charge (infrastructure) rules

The ACCC intends to make its final decision on IPART’s accreditation application by 25 September 2015.