THE monopoly controlling Australia's gas pipelines has "very few constraints" in place to protect consumers from potential price-gouging, a damning report from the competition watchdog has found.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission released a report yesterday on an inquiry into the East Coast gas market.
The ACCC's investigation found that pipeline and gas suppliers in the eastern states had been engaging in monopoly pricing tactics that increased the price of gas - and there was little regulators could do to stop it under current laws.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said some suppliers in the gas industry had also taken advantage of uncertainty over long-term forecasts and the falling oil price to "increase prices and implement more restrictive non-price terms and conditions".
He said that "pricing based on significant pipeline market power" was prevalent" and residential bills could rise up to 5% if the wholesale gas price rose only $2 a gigajoule.