GS advised the Department of Industry and Science on key energy market reform initiatives of the COAG Energy Council and the interpretation and operation of the 3 cooperative schemes in the energy sector – the National Electricity Law (NEL), the National Gas Law (NGL) and the National Energy Retail Law (NERL) (the national energy laws).

Significant aspects of this work included:

  • advising on the establishment of Energy Consumers Australia Ltd (ECA), a national energy consumer advocacy body. ECA was established on 30 January 2015 as company limited by guarantee. It will perform a range of energy consumer advocacy functions nationally and administer grant funding, including for projects that will build knowledge and capacity in the national energy market.
  • advising on a range of issues relevant to the application of the national energy laws by States and Territories, including the development and implementation legislation to apply the NERL in Queensland and the NEL in the Northern Territory and Western Australia; and reviewing the national energy laws, including all State and Territory instruments, and advising on methodologies for introducing and managing difference
  • instructing on amendments to the national energy laws and Commonwealth legislation to implement various policy initiatives of the COAG Energy Council, including amendments to the NEL, NGL and Competition and Consumer Regulations 2010.

AGS also advised the Northern Territory and the Commonwealth governments on the phased application of the National Electricity Rules in the Northern Territory.

AGS's work in supporting national energy market reform continues.

The ECA establishment team included:

  • Office of General Counsel: Counsel Danielle Chifley, Senior General Counsel Sacha Moran, National Group Leader OGCLeo Hardiman, Senior General Counsel Jenny Francis and David Lewis, Counsel Marlowe Thompson, Piccolo Willoughby and Andrew Chapman.
  • AGS Commercial: Deputy General Counsel Commercial Paul Lang, National Group Manager Commercial Kenneth Eagle, Senior Executive Lawyer Clare Derix, Senior Lawyers Stuart Hilton and Lillian Riches.

Other advice and legislative development work for the Department of Industry and Science was performed by Counsel Danielle Chifley, Senior General Counsel Sacha Moran, Chief General Counsel Guy Aitken, Senior General Counsel David Lewis, CounselMarlowe Thompson, Steffen Etherton and Sophie Maltabarow.

Work for the Northern Territory was performed by Counsel Steffen Etherton.

This is an extract from the 2014–15 AGS annual report