Consumer Affairs Victoria 5 AUG 2011

Dear Ms Dempsey

DISCUSSION PAPER - EXTENDING THE JURISDICTION OF THE ENERGY AND WATER OMBUDSMAN (VICTORIA)

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this paper. Access to affordable dispute resolution mechanisms is an important tenet of the consumer protection framework. In this respect, Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) notes in principle support for extending the jurisdiction of the Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria (EWOV) to include small-scale energy distribution bodies.

At the same time, it is important to minimise the risk of any costs associated with membership to EWOV being passed on to the customers of small-scale bodies, some of whom who may be considered vulnerable or disadvantaged consumers. In this respect, CAV supports an approach similar to that taken by the Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON), whereby fees are spread across other scheme participants.

In addition, CAV notes that in the event that EWOV has the power to refer exempt body complaints to another body for enforcement, this body should be VCAT, not CAV. If you have any questions about this submission, or would like to discuss these matters further, please contact Jane Delahey, Policy Adviser, by email jane.delahey@justice.vic.gov.au or by phone (03) 8684 6492.

Yours sincerely

Dr Claire Noone

Executive Director Consumer Affiairs