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 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 in the determination process. 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.
The objective of the CCP is to:
- advise the AER on whether the long-term interests of consumers are being appropriately considered in regulatory proposals and the AER’s decision making
- provide an assessment of networks’ consumer engagement, including the extent to which proposals reflect consumer preferences.
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 supports the delivery of its objective and includes:
- monitoring, assessing and, where appropriate, informing how network service providers (distribution and transmission businesses) are conducting consumer engagement activities (‘observe and inform’)
- assessing the quality of network proposals, providing assurance on the effectiveness of engagement and advising whether consumer views have been appropriately reflected in the expenditure and pricing proposals (‘assurance’)
- providing advice on consumer perspectives on issues related to network determinations and to challenge the AER to ensure that consumer views have been accounted for in decisions to the fullest extent (‘challenge’)
- helping inform the AER’s development of sector-wide positions through lateral reviews (‘laterals’)
- assisting in any other activity that supports the delivery of the CCP objective, as requested from time to time by the AER.
While the CCP would ordinarily be engaged as a subpanel, CCP member/s may also be tasked to deliver a discrete project (a ‘CCP project’). This may include producing advice on a specific matter or undertaking a targeted review.
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 8 current members appointed by the AER. Members work on regulatory determinations in sub-panels of 2 to 4 members. The members have significant local and international expertise, spanning fields including economic regulation, energy networks and consumer representation.
The members are:
- Ms Helen Bartley
- Dr Ron Ben-David
- Dr Andreas Chai
- Ms Elissa Freeman
- Mr Mark Henley
- Dr Robert Nicholls (until July 2022)
- Mr David Prins
- Ms Robyn Robinson
- Mr Mike Swanston
To meet its objective of assisting the AER make better regulatory determinations, the Consumer Challenge Panel may provide statements and advice to the AER in the form of:
- presentations to the AER Board
- written statements of advice
- presentations to public forums in regulatory processes.
The CCP Forward work program 2022–23 provides an indication of the resets and lateral reviews that the CCP are currently providing advice on.
The AER is not obliged to act on the views of the CCP, but will give due weight and consideration to the advice provided and will clearly indicate where CCP advice has been relied on in AER decision making, including revenue resets as part of the regulatory determination process.
Members of the inaugural CCP were appointed from 2013 to 2016. Members of the second CCP were appointed from 2016 to 2019. 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. This option was exercised a third time in July 2021, with 3 members extended up to January 2022, view past panel details.
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.