A foreword by Dr Ron Ben-David, Chairperson of the Essential Services Commission, for our Annual Report 2017-18.
This is my tenth annual report as chair of the Essential Services Commission. I have never been prouder of our achievements than in the past year. It was a year marked by nationally and internationally recognised initiatives that have changed the regulatory landscape in Victoria.
By June, we had completed price determinations for 17 water businesses across the state. These were the first determinations made under our new water pricing regulatory framework, PREMO. The results exceeded our expectations. We challenged the water businesses to step up, think big and deliver great outcomes for their customers. They accepted our challenge and Victorians will now benefit from better services and flat or falling prices over the next five years.
The past year also saw us putting the finishing touches on our new payment difficulties framework. This will see Victorian energy customers receive world-class assistance from their energy retailer when they’re having trouble paying their bills. These new customer entitlements will commence from 1 January 2019.
This was also the year we worked in true partnership with the Victorian water industry to develop and implement policies that will see best-in-class support services provided across the state to customers facing the scourge of family violence.
This year, we put a strong focus on monitoring regulatory compliance and, where necessary, taking enforcement action against energy licensees and accredited persons in the VEET scheme. Our priority is the integrity of these markets and consumers’ rights to fair and reasonable treatment.
We have also continued to work with the Port of Melbourne to embed the new regulatory framework, established by the government with the long-term leasing of the port. Likewise, we have continued to work with the local government sector to ensure the robustness of the Fair Go Rates system, a regulatory framework implemented by the government in 2015.
Our efforts and willingness to think creatively have been recognised around the country with staff and I invited to present our work. We have also hosted international delegations from as far afield as Namibia and Finland.
Even though I cannot do our scope of work justice in these few words, I recognise that none of our accomplishments would have been remotely possible without the extraordinary commitment of our staff. The people who work here do so because they want to make a difference. What a privilege and a pleasure it is to be surrounded by such a motivated team.
Our CEO, John Hamill, inspires me every day. He passionately believes in realising the full potential of the organisation and every individual in it. I am incredibly grateful for John’s support and wise counsel.
Our wide agenda places demands on my fellow commissioners that they may not have expected when they signed up for the role. They have accepted these challenges thoughtfully and in good humour. The support they have provided me and staff over the past year has been invaluable.
No doubt, the year to come will present the commission with many challenges. As an organisation focused on great performance and thought leadership, it will rise to those challenges and remain unerringly focused on promoting the long term interests of Victorian consumers.
We are led by our three commissioners and our chief executive officer. Our commissioners are responsible for approving the determinations, reviews and decisions that respond to our primary responsibilities as an economic regulator.