National regulators, market institutions and other bodies

National Cabinet and National Federation Reform Council

The National Cabinet is a forum for the Prime Minister, Premiers and Chief Ministers to meet and work collaboratively.

Established on 13 March 2020, it is chaired by the Prime Minister and operates according to guiding principles set out in the Commonwealth Cabinet Handbook. The Commonwealth and state and territory governments individually remain responsible for the implementation of decisions arising from the National Cabinet in their jurisdiction.

Prior to the National Cabinet's establishment, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) was the primary intergovernmental forum where the Prime Minister, state and territory First Ministers and the President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) worked together on policy reforms of national significance.

On 29 May 2020, National Cabinet agreed to the cessation of COAG.

Ministerial Council on Energy (Energy Ministers)

The Ministerial Council on Energy (MCE) was established by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in 2001 to deliver the economic and environmental benefits for Australia from implementation of the COAG national energy policy framework.

The current form of the MCE is the Energy and Climate Change Ministerial Council and its separate Energy Ministers Sub-Group (EMSG) – Ministerial forums for the Commonwealth, Australian states and territories, and New Zealand to work together on key reforms in the energy and climate change sectors.

Energy Ministers provide:

  • national oversight and coordination of policy development to address the opportunities and challenges facing Australia's energy sector into the future
  • national leadership so that consideration of broader convergence issues and environmental impacts are effectively integrated into energy sector decision-making.

The Australian Energy Market Agreement underpins the governance and institutional arrangements for the national electricity and gas markets.

Information regarding the national legislation that establishes the rules and regulations for how the markets operate is available on the Australian Government website.

Australian Energy Market Operator

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) was established in 2009 and is responsible for:

  • the day-to-day operation and administration of the wholesale National Electricity Market
  • the wholesale gas market in Victoria and gas short-term trading markets in South Australia and New South Wales
  • retail gas markets in Queensland, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and South Australia.

AEMO also undertakes a range of other functions, including:

  • preparation of an annual statement of opportunities for the National Electricity Market and gas markets across Australia
  • preparation of the Integrated System plan
  • operation of the gas trading markets and the gas market Bulletin Board.

Australian Energy Regulator

The Australian Energy Regulator, which was established in 2005 and is part of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, is responsible for economic regulation of electricity and gas transmission and distribution and monitoring and enforcement of compliance at a national level with National Energy Market legislation (such as the National Electricity and Gas Laws).

Australian Energy Market Commission

The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC), which was established in 2005, is the national rule-making and market development body for the national energy markets.

The commission conducts reviews of matters under the national energy legislation either following a direction from energy ministers or on its own initiative, including reviewing the effectiveness of competition in energy markets.

Its rule-making role involves managing the rule change process, and consulting and deciding on rule changes proposed by others, including the energy ministers.

The AEMC also hosts the Reliability Panel.

Australian Competition Tribunal

The Australian Competition Tribunal is a review body established under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cwlth). A review by the tribunal is a re-hearing or a re-consideration of a matter (albeit on limited material for some reviews).

The tribunal may perform all the functions and exercise all the powers of the original decision-maker for the purposes of review. It can affirm, set aside or vary the original decision.

The tribunal's key role in the energy sector is to undertake, on application, judicial reviews of decisions made by the Australian Energy Regulator.