The AER established the inaugural Consumer Challenge Panel (CCP) in July 2013 as part of our Better Regulation reforms. These reforms aimed to deliver an improved regulatory framework focused on promoting the long-term interests of consumers.
The members of the inaugural CCP were appointed from 2013-2016. Members of second iteration of the CCP were appointed in September 2016, for a term of three years.
The CCP assists the AER to make better regulatory determinations by providing input on issues of importance to consumers. Regulatory determinations are technical and complex processes which can make it difficult for ordinary consumers to participate. The expert members of the CCP bring consumer perspectives to the AER to better balance the range of views considered as part of our decisions.
In June 2019 the AER exercised its right to extend the CCP's appointment agreement for a further year up to September 2020. This option was exercised again in July 2020, with current members extended for a period of up to one year.
The objective of the CCP is to:
- advise the AER on whether the network businesses’ proposals are in the long term interests of consumers; and
- advise the AER on the effectiveness of network businesses’ engagement activities with their customers and how this is reflected in the development of their proposals.
The AER has developed an approach and framework to optimise the quality, timeliness and usefulness of the CCP's advice to the AER.
The role of the CCP is to provide input and challenge the AER on key consumer issues during a network determination, to improve the AER’s decisions. The CCP will facilitate the consideration of the consumer perspective to achieve a balanced consideration of all views by the AER.
- the CCP is not a decision-making forum, nor is its role to negotiate or advocate on behalf of consumers or industry. Its role is to act in an advisory capacity to help inform the AER’s decisions with regards to consumer interests. The CCP provides inputs and challenge which might not come through other means
- the CCP is required to develop an understanding of business, market and industry trends, and the consumer engagement that has been undertaken in relation to proposals
- the CCP is required to understand the AER’s approach to assessing businesses’ proposal and to provide “wise counsel”, insights and ideas which can only come from a consumer perspective
- the CCP is to critically assess whether the issues identified by the AER are important when considering the long-term interests of consumers and whether the approach by the AER to these key issues is in the long-term interests of consumers
- to assist the CCP in understanding the AER’s approach CCP members will have access to AER staff
- the CCP will provide its advice through:
- presentations to the AER Board
- written statements of advice.
- The AER is not obliged to act on the views expressed by CCP members, but will give due weight and consideration to the advice provided. The AER will provide a clear rationale for their decision and will provide feedback to CCP members as to how their views have been considered and addressed.
The AER has created operational documents which contain more information about the CCP's role and provide guidance on how the CCP is governed.
The CCP has six current members appointed by the AER. The members have significant local and international expertise, spanning fields including economic regulation, energy networks and consumer representation.
The members are:
- Ms Louise Benjamin (until September 2019)
- Mr Chris Fitz-Nead (until June 2020)
- Mr Mark Grenning
- Mr Eric Groom PSM (until March 2019)
- Mr Mark Henley
- Ms Beverley Hughson
- Mr Andrew Nance (until September 2019)
- Mr David Prins
- Ms Robyn Robinson
- Mr Mike Swanston
View past panel membership.
To meet its objective of assisting the AER make better regulatory determinations, the Consumer Challenge Panel may provide statements and advice to the AER.
The AER has commissioned periodic independent reviews to consider to what extent the CCP program is achieving its objectives and to examine the efficiency and effectiveness of the program.
For further information see the CCP charter, Better Regulation: AER's Consumer Challenge Panel fact sheet.