Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 


Structural reforms of water utilities in Australia examined


Structural reforms of water utilities in Australia examined.


Keynote speaker from the Australian Water Association- Water NZ Conference, 17 October 2013, 9.00 am

Significant institutional reforms to water utilities in Australia have largely been successful; but there were lessons to be learned, says Graham Dooley, the President of the Australian Water Association at today’s NZ Water conference in Hamilton.

In the 1990s 150 Victorian water utilities owned by local bodies were brought together into 17 larger utilities. “This brought significant economies of scale into both water and sewage services,” he told the conference.

Graham Dooley said that prior to the reforms there was considerable fear of disruption of services.

“As it transpired, there was no disruption despite the enormity of the reforms. Additionally the career prospects for water professionals were enhanced.”

Proper management of the reform process was key to the success across all the disciplines involved in delivering water and disposing of waste. These included accountants, planners, engineers and administrators.

Efficiency and a desire to lift the standard of water services were the drivers in the Australian reforms.

“Many of the smaller towns and districts in Victoria were too small to access and service the capital needed to bring their water services up to standard. When they joined in with the larger towns and cities, the larger customer catchment provided the necessary size and numbers to spread the cost of upgrades. More customers paid less per head for improved services.”

The Australian reforms are not unique, the conference was told. A similar story was seen in England and Wales in 1976 when hundreds and hundreds of little utilities were amalgamated into ten big ones with astounding improvement in efficiencies, enhancing services levels and careers for water professionals.

The Thatcher reforms followed in 1989. Margaret Thatcher’s government sold the water utilities; moving its ownership into the private sector in a blaze of criticism.

Baroness Thatcher later explained the reason for privatisation. She argued water utilities needed enormous sums of capital to bring the UK water standards up to European Community levels and the British Government could not afford it. Hindsight shows that move was successful.

Shares in those companies today are generally held in conservative international superannuation funds who seek low, long-term, stable returns on their investments.

The privatised water utilities are heavily regulated by an independent drinking water inspectorate, an independent economic regulator and an independent environmental regulator. This ensures customers receive potable water, their sewage is disposed of effectively and that costs are reasonable . In reality it is business-as-usual delivering high standard services.

“The private ownership model has not been for everyone,“ he said, noting that there was no support for it in New Zealand. Support for greater engagement of investment capital in all types of infrastructure, including water utilities, was growing in Australia. Sydney Water recently engaged A$2.1 Billion of investment capital in its desalination plant to replace Government debt.

Graham Dooley repeated his point that good management of reform was crucial with clear objectives and a good communication plan for the community and stakeholders. He told the conference that all reforms are not ‘good news stories’; citing problematic processes in the Queensland reforms. “However, these problems could have been avoided by better planning and management,” he said.

Ends…/

Background
Graham Dooley – Chair, Australian Water Association

Graham has been a leading figure in the Australian water industry for many years in both public and private sectors.

Following a 20 year career with the public utility Sydney Water, during which he held a number of management roles, Graham spent 17 years as Managing Director of United Utilities Australia Pty Ltd, a UK owned company which was successful in winning infrastructure projects across Australia for public authorities, local government and industry.

Graham is also Chairman of Blue Sky Water Partners Pty Ltd, an investment management company, Chairman of Osmoflo Pty Ltd, Australia’s largest desalination company, Chairman of Water Utilities Australia Pty Ltd, an investor in water infrastructure, the President (Chair) of the Australian Water Association, the peak Australian water industry organisation and of Water Australia, the industry's lead export business body. He is a Fellow of both the Institute of Engineers Australia and the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Graham holds a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) from the University of Sydney and a Masters in Public Administration from the American University, Washington DC.

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Last Night’s Debate, And The Collins Accusation

Debating is a peculiar discipline in that what you say is less important than how you’re saying it. Looking poised, being articulate and staying on topic generally wins the day – and on that score, Labour leader David Cunliffe won what turned out to be a bruising encounter with Prime Minister John Key last night on TVNZ.

Cunliffe marshalled his points better, kept Key off balance and – more often than not – was in control of the general tenor of the contest. Labour supporters would have been heartened, and given some belated reassurance that maybe the change of leadership last year had been the right decision. More>>

 

Parliament Today:

Gordon Campbell: On Winston Peters' Latest Bout Of Immigrant Bashing

It is only one poll, but rather than cannibalising each other's vote, Colin Craig and Winston Peters do seem to be managing to find the room to co-exist... Few are questioning how Peters got to this happy place, and what it says about the mood of the electorate. More>>

ALSO:

More Immigration News: First People Trafficking Charges

The first people trafficking charges in New Zealand have been brought by Immigration New Zealand (INZ)... The defendants have been charged under the Crimes Act 1961 for arranging by deception the entry of 18 Indian nationals into New Zealand. More>>

Collins 'Misinterprets Media Reports': "Too Compromised To Remain Justice Minister"

Bizarre claims by Judith Collins this morning that she had been cleared of inappropriate behaviour by the Privacy Commissioner demonstrates she is too compromised to remain Justice Minister, Labour MP Grant Robertson says. More>>

ALSO:

Labour On Climate Change: Focus On The Now For The Future

A Labour Government will put in place a comprehensive climate change strategy focusing on both mitigation and adaptation, establish an independent Climate Commission and implement carbon budgeting, says Labour Climate Change spokesperson Moana Mackey. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On National’s Housing Assistance Plan

So, as many as 90,000 people could derive some benefit from National’s housing assistance plans for low and middle-income earners... Yet in reality, the benefits seem likely to be insignificant, and they will be skewed towards those at the top end of the income group that’s supposedly the target. More>>

ALSO:

Election Data Consortium: National’s Worst Case Scenario At Stage One?

A month out from the general election and ipredict traders are still forecasting National’s vote to slip below current polling levels and there is potential for it to fall further. More>>

ALSO:

From The Scoop Video Archive: PM Says SIS "Told Me" About OIA Release

In a press conference immediately following an controversial OIA release of notes on an SIS briefing to then Labour leader Phil Goff, Key said "at that point [Tucker] told me he'd release it ...". Since the release of Nicky Hager's 'Dirty Politics' Key has denied being personally informed and said references by officials to 'the PM' being told briefed referred to his office. He now says the same about his own statement. More>>

ALSO:

  • Scoop Video in the news - New questions over Key claims | NZ Herald News - Stuff.co.nz
  • Earlier - Felix Marwick: Laying out facts over SIS documents - Newstalk ZB
  • Labour - Director’s letter contradicts Key’s claims
  • ACT - The Letter - 26 days to go
  • TV3 Video - Housing issue nudges Dirty Politics aside - David Cunliffe: Key's SIS explanation 'defies belief' - SIS leak came from Key's Office - Goff - Key 'categorically denies' Slater OIA discussion - Video: Key faces more Dirty Politics questions

  • TVNZ - Winston Peters: ‘Dirty Politics' is a new low
  • The Nation - Debate Between Grant Robertson And Russel Norman
  • NZ First - “The Words Mean What I Say They Mean”
  • Get More From Scoop

     

    LATEST HEADLINES

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Regional
    Search Scoop  
     
     
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news