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Carlton, Australia

Abbott M.,Swinburne University of Technology | Cohen B.,Grattan Institute
Energy Policy | Year: 2011

As a consequence of policies in Australia and New Zealand to increase competition in the utilities sector, regulatory agencies have been created in each state to provide independent and authorative advice on matters such as electricity pricing, access to infrastructure, service quality and security of supply. In addition arrangements have been established to maintain safety standards in the industry. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the major issues that have arisen in the creation of regulatory agencies responsible for electrical safety standards in Australia and New Zealand, and how they have impacted on liberalised electricity markets. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Abbott M.,Swinburne University of Technology | Cohen B.,Grattan Institute
Water Resources Research | Year: 2010

Over the past 2 decades there has been a range of reforms to the structure of the water supply and wastewater industries around the world. As yet these reforms have not been as extensive, or as uniform, as in other utilities such as telecommunications, gas, and electricity supply. One focus of reform has been to enhance the structure of water supply and wastewater industries to improve levels of productivity and efficiency while at the same time maintaining environmental and water quality standards, providing affordable access to clean water and encouraging innovation and improvement in service delivery. Now, however, a changing climate, new technologies, and greater emphasis on environmental impacts of supply from traditional sources are creating forces which are requiring a rethinking of traditional water and wastewater industry structures. The purpose of this paper is to examine emerging issues that confront the structure of the water and wastewater industries and to assess them in light of the findings of productivity and efficiency analysis undertaken to date. In doing so, this paper considers how industry structure may impact upon, and be influenced by, the dual achievement of both economic efficiency and issues such as water quality standards, environmental outcomes, innovation, and social goals in an evolving industry environment. Copyright 2010 by the American Geophysical Union. Source

Abbott M.,Swinburne University of Technology | Wang W.C.,Swinburne University of Technology | Cohen B.,Grattan Institute
Utilities Policy | Year: 2011

Since the 1980s, one of the most important parts of Australian microeconomic reform has been the restructuring of the country's government owned utilities - including water supply and wastewater disposal. This process was encouraged by the perception that the state owned authorities performed poorly in the 1970s and 1980s. This paper analyses economic performance of the Melbourne water and wastewater industry from the early 1970s. Over the longer term, the industry has improved its economic performance in terms of productivity and returns to the shareholder, however, consumers have not substantially benefited from this process in terms of lower prices. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Abbott M.,Swinburne University of Technology | Cohen B.,Grattan Institute | Wang W.C.,Swinburne University of Technology
Utilities Policy | Year: 2012

Substantial structural reform has occurred in the water and wastewater sectors of Australia's major urban centers over the past two decades. This reform has involved the corporatization of government assets and some vertical and horizontal separation. This paper analyses the performance of these sectors since the mid 1990s. In particular, it uses Malmquist Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) to determine the different levels of productivity and efficiency improvement over this period. The results point to modest, but positive productivity gains in the larger urban centers, independent of industry structure. Further, it highlights the need to consider exogenous factors that can influence productivity outcomes in an industry generally associated with monopoly characteristics and dependent on water sources that are, to varying extents, unpredictable and uncontrollable. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Palmer K.S.,Simon Fraser University | Agoritsas T.,McMaster University | Agoritsas T.,University of Geneva | Martin D.,University of Toronto | And 19 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Background: Activity-based funding (ABF) of hospitals is a policy intervention intended to re-shape incentives across health systems through the use of diagnosis-related groups. Many countries are adopting or actively promoting ABF. We assessed the effect of ABF on key measures potentially affecting patients and health care systems: mortality (acute and post-acute care); readmission rates; discharge rate to post-acute care following hospitalization; severity of illness; volume of care.Methods: We undertook a systematic review and meta-analysis of the worldwide evidence produced since 1980. We included all studies reporting original quantitative data comparing the impact of ABF versus alternative funding systems in acute care settings, regardless of language. We searched 9 electronic databases (OVID MEDLINE, EMBASE, OVID Healthstar, CINAHL, Cochrane CENTRAL, Health Technology Assessment, NHS Economic Evaluation Database, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and Business Source), hand-searched reference lists, and consulted with experts. Paired reviewers independently screened for eligibility, abstracted data, and assessed study credibility according to a pre-defined scoring system, resolving conflicts by discussion or adjudication.Results: Of 16,565 unique citations, 50 US studies and 15 studies from 9 other countries proved eligible (i.e. Australia, Austria, England, Germany, Israel, Italy, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland). We found consistent and robust differences between ABF and no-ABF in discharge to post-acute care, showing a 24% increase with ABF (pooled relative risk =1.24, 95% CI 1.18-1.31). Results also suggested a possible increase in readmission with ABF, and an apparent increase in severity of illness, perhaps reflecting differences in diagnostic coding. Although we found no consistent, systematic differences in mortality rates and volume of care, results varied widely across studies, some suggesting appreciable benefits from ABF, and others suggesting deleterious consequences.Conclusions: Transitioning to ABF is associated with important policy- and clinically-relevant changes. Evidence suggests substantial increases in admissions to post-acute care following hospitalization, with implications for system capacity and equitable access to care. High variability in results of other outcomes leaves the impact in particular settings uncertain, and may not allow a jurisdiction to predict if ABF would be harmless. Decision-makers considering ABF should plan for likely increases in post-acute care admissions, and be aware of the large uncertainty around impacts on other critical outcomes. © 2014 Palmer et al. Source

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