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The NGL provides for the regulation of natural gas pipeline services in Australia.
The Council’s role under the NGL is similar to its role under Part IIIA of the CCA. The Council makes recommendations to relevant Minister(s) on the coverage (regulation) of natural gas pipeline systems. In addition, under the NGL, the Council also:
- decides the form of regulation of natural gas pipeline systems (i.e. light or full regulation)
- classifies pipelines as transmission or distribution pipelines, and
- makes recommendations in relation to certain exemptions for ‘greenfields’ gas pipeline proposals.
Under the NGL the Council is subject to a time limit, generally of four months, for making its recommendations and determinations.
The current ‘coverage criteria’ are reproduced in Box 2-2.
Box 2-2 Coverage criteria (section 15 of the NGL)
(a) that access (or increased access) to pipeline services provided by means of the pipeline would promote a material increase in competition in at least 1 market (whether or not in Australia), other than the market for the pipeline services provided by means of the pipeline (criterion (a))
(b) that it would be uneconomic for anyone to develop another pipeline to provide the pipeline services provided by means of the pipeline (criterion (b))
(c) that access (or increased access) to the pipeline services provided by means of the pipeline can be provided without undue risk to human health or safety (criterion (c))
(d) that access (or increased access) to the pipeline services provided by means of the pipeline would not be contrary to the public interest (criterion (d)).
Prior to the passage of the Amendment Act, the wording of the coverage criteria broadly mirrored that of the declaration criteria in Part IIIA of the CCA. However, there are now notable differences between the two sets of criteria, which the Council and the Minister must consider when making recommendations and decisions regarding declaration and coverage respectively. These matters are described in more detail in the Council’s report under s29O of the CCA.