The Council of Australian Governments (COAG)  meeting this week received a report from its Future Competition and Regulatory Reform Taskforce which has been consulting with peak business bodies and organisations including conservation groups which have an interest in environmental regulation reforms.


COAG has agreed to reducing duplication and double-handling of environmental assessment and approval processes while maintaining high environmental standards that are risk- and outcomes-based. In line with the timing agreed at the COAG meeting in April, consultations are underway and negotiations for bilateral agreements are about to commence.


The Taskforce has worked with the Select Council on Climate Change to examine options to expand and expedite planned reviews into the complementarity of climate change measures with a carbon price.  Work on establishing the scope for reform and in identifying measures for review is expected to be largely completed by late 2012.


On energy market reform, work is already in train through the Standing Council on Energy and Resources.  COAG expressed concern over the recent electricity price increases arising from factors including increases in transmission and distribution charges,  and requested energy ministers to focus current reviews of market regulation in the interconnected market on achieving efficient future investment which does not result in undue price pressures on consumers and business.


COAG asked the Taskforce to undertake further work and advise COAG in late 2012 on any additional action required to deliver a regulatory framework that promotes a competitive retail electricity market, including appropriate support for vulnerable customers, and efficient investment. 


Work to develop best-practice approaches to lift regulatory performance and policy initiatives to meet the red tape challenge is also being advanced. 


A report will be provided to the next meeting of the Business Advisory Forum and recommendations to COAG in late 2012.