If the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has reason to believe that a person is capable of providing information, producing a document or giving evidence that the AER requires for the performance or exercise of a function or power conferred on it under the National Energy Laws and Rules, the AER may serve a compulsory notice on that person.
Specifically, a compulsory notice may be issued by the AER to require the recipient to:
- provide information in writing signed by the recipient or competent officer of the recipient within the time and in the manner specified; and/or
- produce documents to the AER, or to a person specified in the compulsory notice; and/or
- appear before a member of the AER or a specified AER Senior Executive Service employee at a time and place specified in the compulsory notice to give evidence, orally or in writing, and produce documents.
The power under paragraph (c) was introduced by amendments that came into force upon the proclamation of the Statutes Amendment (National Energy Laws) (Penalties and Enforcement) Act 2020 on 29 January 2021.
Those amendments also will now require the AER to publish guidelines about the exercise of these powers. The guidelines are required to include information about;
- the rights and obligations of persons who are served with a relevant notice under that section; and
- the penalties applying under that section for non-compliance with a notice; and
- the purposes for which information obtained under that section may be used.
The guidelines also include information on the circumstances in which the AER may consider issuing a compulsory notice and practical arrangements for oral examinations.