The Senate has referred the Competition and Consumer Amendment (Abolition of Limited Merits Review) Bill 2017 (Cth) to the Standing Committees on Environment and Communications. The Bill intends to prevent the Australian Competition Tribunal (the Tribunal) from reviewing certain decisions made under the national energy laws and to ensure that decisions made by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) under those laws are not subject to merits review by any other State or Territory body. Economic regulatory decisions are currently subject to limited merits review (LMR) by the Tribunal. Grounds include the regulator made an error(s) of fact in its findings of fact, and that error(s) was material to the making of the decision; the exercise of the regulator’s discretion was incorrect, having regard to all the circumstances; and/or the decision was unreasonable, having regard to all the circumstances. The Government, on the findings of the COAG Energy Councils 2016 review, see the LMR scheme to be restricting the policy intent of the regime and increasing consumer prices. The Bill can be read here and submissions made here.
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