The Gas Distribution Contracts Oversight Scheme (the Scheme) is a non-regulatory gas industry governance arrangements, endorsed by the Minister of Energy and Resources in September 2012. Its purpose is to ensure that the core terms and conditions in distribution arrangements are clear and reasonable; promote market efficiency; and ultimately enhance consumer outcomes. The Scheme includes a set of Distribution Principles that cover non-price contractual (and inferred) terms, such as the obligations and rights of parties and information exchange and use, as agreed between gas distribution businesses and gas retail businesses. The Principles are not intended as a model contract for distribution services; rather they are designed to provide a high-level context for commercial negotiations between distributors and retailers.
Publicly available gas distribution arrangements are assessed and reported on against these Principles by an Independent Assessor.
The Scheme is similar to the Gas Retail Contracts Assessment Scheme. However it is based on Principles rather than more prescriptive Benchmarks, in recognition that parties to distribution service arrangements are significant commercial entities, better able to negotiate mutually acceptable terms than small consumers can with retailers.
The first assessment was conducted in February 2013, and the second in March 2014. Gas Industry Co appointed Elwood Law as the Independent Assessor for both assessments. Elwood Law is experienced in interpreting contractual arrangements, and has experience in the gas industry, including as the Independent Assessor for Gas Industry Co's Retail Gas Contracts Oversight Scheme.
Going forward, assessments will be conducted on an exceptions basis (as contracts are further revised or replaced).