Wednesday, 13 June 2012
GOVERNMENT SAFEGUARDS CONSUMER PROTECTION
The Victorian Coalition Government has decided it will defer its transition to new national laws regulating the retailing of electricity and gas to ensure there is no reduction in key protections for Victorian consumers.
"Victoria has the strongest consumer protections in the country and we are not prepared to accept a dilution of key Victorian consumer protections as a result of this reform," Minister for Energy and Resources Michael O'Brien said today.
The National Energy Customer Framework is part of the energy market reform program of the Council of Australian Governments to establish a single regulatory framework for energy retail regulation.
Mr O'Brien said the Victorian Government had consistently stated it would only agree to implement the national framework if key Victorian consumer protections were retained.
"Victoria is working to reach an acceptable agreement with the Commonwealth, so that we can deliver the potential benefits of a national framework," Mr O'Brien said.
"However, despite our best endeavours, a resolution of outstanding issues has not occurred in time for us to implement the new laws from 1 July 2012 as previously proposed.
"The Essential Services Commission will continue to regulate the Victorian Energy Retail Code while Victoria undertakes further work with the Australian Energy Regulator regarding the administration of certain key state-specific retail regulations," Mr O'Brien said.
The Queensland and New South Wales governments have also decided to defer implementation of the new laws, but for different reasons.
Mr O'Brien said in the interim, the Victorian Government would explore opportunities to align state retail and consumer protection arrangements with the national framework where it does not result in lower standards.
"The Victorian Government will work with the other jurisdictions, energy retailers and other stakeholders to implement the national framework as soon as practicable," Mr O'Brien said.
"The deferral will allow us to put in place arrangements to ensure there is no reduction in key protections for Victorian consumers at a time when consumers are facing rising energy costs."