IPART seeks feedback on costing reform

New South Wales’ Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has announced it is seeking feedback on its recommended changes to what the state’s councils pay for local government election services provided by the NSW Electoral Commission (NSWEC).

In a draft report released late last week, IPART has recommended a $2.6 million (or 4.5%) reduction to the commissions proposed costs.

The report concludes that the savings would result from:

  • Reducing the NSWEC’s operating costs for local government elections by $8.8 million (or 15.6%), to $47.7 million, compared to the $56.5 million it proposed, and

  • Adding $6.2 million of capital expenditure and overheads required to run local government elections, which were not included in the NSWEC’s proposal.

IPART Chair Dr Paul Paterson said the introduction of cost-reflective pricing would change the allocation of costs between councils to better reflect the actual costs of providing services, and encourage greater competition in the provision of election services.

IPART has also recommended supporting reforms that would give councils more choice in how they obtain the election services they need. “Councils have had the option of using private providers since 2011 and can also choose to administer their own elections,” Dr Paterson said.

“Despite this, most councils continue to opt for the services provided by the NSWEC as taxpayer subsidies make it difficult for alternative existing and potential election service providers to compete, even though councils that have used alternative providers in the past have been able to find cost savings.”

“We are proposing a pricing approach and other measures that are aimed at enhancing the scope for competition in the supply of election services, which over time has the potential to increase innovation, provide councils with more choice and reduce costs. Cost-reflective prices would also help to ensure the NSWEC’s costs of administering local government elections are transparent and subject to appropriate scrutiny,” Dr Paterson said.

IPART’s draft report and recommendations are available at ipart.nsw.gov.au. Submissions in response to the Draft Report will be accepted until 19 July. Final recommendations will be made to the Minister for Local Government by 30 August 2019.

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