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Trends in Australian Infrastructure Prices 1990-91 to 2000-01

Performance monitoring report

This report was released on 29 May 2002. The purpose of the study was to examine real changes to prices and profitability, along with absolute changes in service indicators, in electricity, gas, water and sewerage, urban transport, ports, railways and telecommunications, in order to see whether the changes are consistent with the stated aims of the reforms that were undertaken prior to and during the study period.

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Trends in infrastructure prices over the last 10-15 years have been generally consistent with government reform objectives, according to a Productivity Commission report.

The report — Trends in Australian Infrastructure Prices 1990-91 to 2000-01 — reviews infrastructure price trends in metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas over the last decade.

Electricity, gas, water and sewerage, urban transport, ports, railways and telecommunications services were examined. These infrastructure services have been the focus of microeconomic reform over the last 10-15 years.

The Commission found that prices in some industries have fallen. For example, electricity prices to business sector have fallen markedly. In other industries where prices were too low — urban transport, for example — prices have risen, reducing the drain of poor financial performance on taxpayers.

Productivity Commission Chairman, Gary Banks, commenting on the study said 'the trends in prices and other performance measures are generally consistent with the expectations and objectives of the reform programs. While there have been transitional costs and some prices have risen, there have also been considerable benefits to households from more cost-effective services and cost-reflective prices, as well as from taxpayers having to contribute less'.

The Commission found that the direction and magnitude of price trends has been broadly similar for metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas. Generally, service quality has been maintained over the decade.

The Commission is currently undertaking a more detailed analysis of the distributional impacts of these trends on different households.

The study forms part of a continuing program of research into the performance of economic infrastructure industries and the impact of microeconomic reforms.

Further information

Leonora Nicol, Media and Publications 02 6240 3239 / 0417 665 443

Preliminaries
Cover, Copyright, Foreword, Contents, Abbreviations, Overview

1  Introduction
1.1  Study objectives
1.2  Purpose
1.3  Microeconomic reform of economic infrastructure services
1.4  Study scope
1.5  Approach
1.6  Report outline

2  Electricity
2.1  Industry reforms
2.2  Price outcomes for metropolitan households
2.3  Price variations
2.4  Service quality
2.5  Shareholder outcomes
A  Data tables

3  Gas
3.1  Industry reforms
3.2  Price outcomes for metropolitan households
3.3  Price variations
3.4  Service quality
3.5  Shareholder outcomes
A  Data tables

4  Water and sewerage
4.1  Industry reforms
4.2  Price outcomes for metropolitan households
4.3  Price variations
4.4  Service quality
4.5  Shareholder outcomes
A  Assumptions and data sources underlying construction of real price indexes
B  Data tables

5  Urban transport
5.1  Industry reforms
5.2  Price outcomes for metropolitan households
5.3  Price trends for taxis and other forms of urban transport
5.4  Price variations
5.5  Service quality
5.6  Shareholder outcomes
A  Data Tables

6  Ports and rail freight
6.1  Ports
6.2  Rail Freight
A  Data tables

7  Telecommunications
7.1  Industry reforms
7.2  Price outcomes for metropolitan households
7.3  Price variations
7.4  Service quality
7.5  Shareholder outcomes
A  Data tables

References

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