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Committee refers regulation submissions

Dissatisfaction with current regulation processes has been highlighted in submissions made to a parliamentary committee considering legislation to set up a single WA gas, electricity, rail and water regulatory body.

Prior to finalising its Economic Regulation Authority Bill report late last month, the Legislative Council Public Administration and Finance Committee referred several submissions to Treasury and Finance.

These highlighted the time taken to arrive at regulatory decisions, concerns on environmental issues and cost recovery processes, and possible conflicts with the Commonwealth Trade Practices Act.

Treasury and Finance representatives appearing as witnesses to the committee’s inquiry, told the committee the ERA Bill would consolidate expertise, achieve performance efficiencies, and "provide for the consistent application of regulation".

Timeframes for making decisions "in consultation" would be incorporated into the Gas Pipelines Access (WA) Act and the Railways Access Act, one witness said.

The combined authority was "also about achieving greater independence…less likelihood of individual industry regulators being captured by members of that industry,” the committee was told.

Currently the regulator for railways and gas access is the same person - Ken Michael – but working out of two different offices.

The Legislative Council committee received 27 submissions from private and public organisations.

Those making submissions were asked not to make these public until the committee had passed on its report.

However, submissions by the Australian Pipeline Industry Association, WA pipeline owner CMS Energy Gas Transmission Australia, WestNet Rail and the Western Australian Council of Social Service were identified for possible referral.

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