The ACCC has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of new work for the ACCC in scams, childcare, water trading and an extension of the ACCC’s gas inquiry role.
“We look forward to delivering on these new responsibilities, as well as our ongoing work to promote competition and fairer markets for consumers and small businesses,” ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said.
The Budget Papers highlight a number of significant challenges for Australians from rising electricity and gas prices.
The Government has asked the ACCC to examine the voluntary Code of Conduct governing Gas Supply Agreements between Gas Suppliers and Gas Customers and advise on options to improve its operation, improve price transparency and ensure reasonable pricing.
The government has also extended the ACCC’s gas inquiry role through to 2030.
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“This new and extended work shows the importance of matters in this sector and the contribution the ACCC can make at a time of significant global energy pressures,” Ms Cass-Gottlieb said.
National anti-scams centre
The ACCC will use seed funding from the budget to collaborate with other agencies to prepare for the establishment of a national anti-scams centre.
“This funding allows for a range of agencies to work together to plan the best way of supporting the community in the fight against scammers,” Ms Cass-Gottlieb said.
“The anti-scams-centre is designed to give consumers one contact point for advice on how to prevent scams and what to do when they have been hit.”
“We look forward to contributing to the blueprint for this important work to better guard the community against and respond to the dangers of scams,” Ms Cass-Gottlieb said.
The Government previously announced the ACCC would be asked to conduct an inquiry into the supply of childcare services in Australia to be undertaken in 2023.
“Accessible, quality and affordable childcare is vital for Australian workers and families and essential for workforce participation for many people with young children,” Ms Cass-Gottlieb said.
“We have commenced preparatory work for this inquiry, and expect to shortly begin engagement with the sector on information gathering.”
A formal direction from Government with terms of reference is expected shortly.
Water trading reforms
On 14 October, the Government announced a new role for the ACCC as the water market conduct regulator in the Murray-Darling Basin.
To support the implementation of a mandatory code of conduct for intermediaries, the ACCC has received funding to conduct education and compliance work to support the implementation of the code.
This measure was recommended by the ACCC’s Murray-Darling Basin water markets report in 2021. The ACCC’s role will build into a substantial role from mid 2025.
“This is an important new role in a crucial market for the Australian economy and basin communities that will help build trust in the Murray-Darling water markets,” Ms Cass-Gottlieb said.