The ACCC released an issues paper on 31 May 2017 seeking feedback on pricing, competition and customer issues. Submissions to the issues paper will close on 30 June 2017.
The Terms of Reference for the inquiry were set by the Treasurer, the Hon Scott Morrison MP.
On 19 April 2017 the Australian Government directed the ACCC to conduct a wide-ranging inquiry into the supply of and demand for wholesale gas in Australia, as well as to publish regular information on the supply and pricing of gas for the next three years.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will use its inquiry powers, including its ability to compulsorily acquire information, to increase transparency and address opaqueness in the gas market. The ACCC will provide regular information to the market over the next three years on the supply and pricing of gas under a broad reference from the Federal Government.
“This new measure is an important element of the Government’s plan to make sure more affordable gas is available to industry and consumers,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
On 13 April 2015 the Minister for Small Business directed the ACCC to hold an inquiry into the competitiveness of the wholesale gas industry. The ACCC concluded this inquiry in April 2016.
The terms of reference for the inquiry were announced on 27 March 2017.
On 27 March 2017, the Treasurer directed the ACCC to hold an inquiry into the supply of retail electricity and the competitiveness of retail electricity prices.
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said events following the ACCC’s April 2016 Inquiry into the east coast gas market have confirmed the Commission’s worst fears.
Speaking in Sydney today at the 5th Annual Australia Domestic Gas Outlook Conference 2017, Mr Sims said, “One year ago at this conference I warned of “…an urgent need for both new and importantly more diverse sources of gas supply into the domestic market.”
“The outlook for gas supply is now even worse than it was a year ago; indeed, our worst fears are being realised,” Mr Sims said.
The Northern Territory has an opportunity to play a significant role in the east coast gas market, ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said at the South East Asia Australia Offshore & Onshore Conference in Darwin today.
“However, for the Northern Territory to realise its potential in the east coast gas market it is imperative we have some onshore gas development. We also need to avoid pipeline charges making the cost of transporting the gas to the east coast prohibitive,” Mr Sims said.