8226.0 - Electricity, Gas, Water and Sewerage Operations, Australia, 2000-01  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/09/2002   
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1 The range of financial statistics appearing in this publication have been derived from the 2000-01 Economic Activity Survey. This collection aims to meet the demands of users who require annual financial statistics which can be related to industry in Australia on a consistent basis.

2 The collection of electricity, gas, water and sewerage data is conducted as a component of the Economic Activity Survey. Data from each industry in this Survey conform to the same basic conceptual standards, allowing comparative analysis between different industries.

3 The data for 1999-2000 are now final and replace those previously issued in the 1999-2000 issue of Electricity, Gas, Water and Sewerage Industries, Australia (cat. no. 8208.0) released on 28 August 2001.


4 The 1993 edition of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) (cat. no. 1292.0) has been used to classify management units (businesses) included in the Economic Activity Survey.

5 The Electricity and Gas Operations Collection covers those management units (businesses) mainly engaged in the generation, transmission or distribution of electricity (ANZSIC Class 3610); and the manufacture of town gas from coal and/or petroleum, or the mains distribution of town gas, natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas (ANZSIC Class 3620). Note that management units mainly engaged in the distribution of liquefied petroleum gas in bulk or in containers are classified to petroleum product wholesaling (ANZSIC Class 4521) and are not included. The Water and Sewerage Operations Collection covers those management units mainly engaged in the storage, purification or supply of water, or the operation of sewerage or drainage systems, including sewage treatment plants (ANZSIC Class 3701 Water supply, and Class 3702 Sewerage and drainage services).

6 Electricity generation is sometimes undertaken within a location mainly engaged in other activities (e.g. a manufacturing establishment) solely, or in part, to provide power for those activities. Statistics relating to electricity generation in this situation are not treated as part of the electricity industry and therefore are not included in this publication.

7 Prior to recent industry reforms, the electricity industry was largely vertically integrated, i.e. the activities of generation, transmission and distribution of electricity were conducted within a single management unit. With restructuring following the industry reforms, these activities are more often conducted by separate management units. This has resulted in increases to some data items, e.g. the sale of electricity may be recorded by both generator and distributor.

8 The gas industry has also recently undergone industry reforms leading to restructuring and privatisation. In a similar fashion to the electricity industry the activities of transmission, distribution and other activities (e.g. retailing) are now being carried out by separate management units. This has resulted in increases to some data items, e.g. sale of gas may be recorded by both distributors and retailers.


9 The basic unit for which statistics are reported in the Economic Activity Survey is the management unit.

10 The management unit is the highest-level unit within a business, having regard to industry homogeneity requirements, for which accounts are maintained; in nearly all cases it coincides with the legal entity owning the business (i.e. company, partnership, trust, sole operator, etc.). In the case of large diversified businesses, however, there may be more than one management unit, each coinciding with a division or line of business. A management unit is recognised where separate and comprehensive accounts are compiled for it.

11 This publication presents industry statistics which are compiled differently from activity statistics. Each management unit is classified to a single industry irrespective of any diversity of activities undertaken. The industry allocated is the one which provides the main source of income. This means that a management unit which derives most of its income from electricity generation activities would have all operations included in the aggregates and ratios for the electricity industry group, even if significant secondary activities (e.g. water supply, coal mining, retailing) were undertaken. For example, the water and sewerage data collected for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory excludes their major water supply companies, since at the management unit level they are classified as part of the electricity industry.


12 The period covered by the collection is in general the 12 months ended 30 June. Where businesses are unable to supply information on this basis, the substitute accounting period is used for data other than that relating to employment.


13 Commencing with estimates for 1997-98, under new international standards, contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) by electricity, gas, water and sewerage industries will be measured by the variable ‘industry value added’ (IVA). Estimates for IVA measure the value added by an industry to the intermediate inputs used by that industry. Under the previous standards, the corresponding contribution to GDP was measured by the variable ‘industry gross product’ (IGP) at the management unit level. An explanation of the relationship between IVA estimates and IGP estimates can be found in the Glossary.


14 A range of performance measures, usually referred to as ‘ratios’, can be produced from the data available from profit and loss statements and balance sheets of businesses. This publication presents only a selection of these for the electricity and gas industries. While these are a very useful way of presenting summaries of performance, users of these statistics should note the limitations referred to below before making any judgments based on these results. Comment from analysts on the need for, and use of, these or other measures would be welcomed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

15 Users should take particular note of the following limitations in respect of the ratios presented in this publication.

16 The usefulness of the ratios for analytical purposes depends on how they are calculated. Comparison between industries on a total industry basis may be best served by the estimates presented herein, i.e. based on industry estimates for numerators and denominators. Users should be aware that assessment of individual business performance based on comparisons with industry estimates may be misleading for other reasons. There may be circumstances peculiar to the business in question which should be taken into account. For example, is it undertaking a program of expansion, contraction, diversification or amalgamation during the period under review? Analysis of movements in performance indicators of the business and industry over a number of years would be more appropriate.

17 Differences in accounting policy and practices across businesses and industries and changes over time lead to some inconsistencies in the data input to these estimates. While much of the accounting process is subject to standards, there is still a great deal of flexibility left to managers in the accounting policy and practices they adopt. For example, acceptable methods of asset valuation include historical cost, replacement cost and current market value. The timing of asset revaluations also varies considerably across businesses. The way profit is measured is affected by management policy on such things as depreciation rates, bad debt provisions and write-off and goodwill write-off. The varying degree to which businesses decide to consolidate their accounts may affect the quality of the ratios calculated. In general, the effect of consolidation is to ‘net out’ some of the transactions between related business units and this may distort some ratios.

18 Finally, use of a single ratio in any analysis is to be avoided because it could be misleading. Often the interpretation of one ratio is influenced by the value of others. The above limitations are not meant to imply that analysis based on ratios should be avoided. However, they should be borne in mind when making any commentary or decisions based on these types of statistics.

19 The ratios presented in this publication are categorised as follows:

  • turnover ratios indicate the efficiency of selling activities (including the sale of services as well as goods);
  • profitability ratios measure rates of profit on sales, funds and assets;
  • liquidity ratios measure the ability of businesses to meet short-term financial obligations, i.e. how quickly can it convert selected assets into cash;
  • debt ratios indicate the extent to which debt is used as an alternative to financing through equity and the ability of businesses to meet the cost of such financing;
  • labour ratios measure the relative profitability and costs of labour; and
  • capital expenditure ratios indicate the ability and extent to which businesses invest in capital assets.

20 A further explanation of each ratio can be found in the Glossary.


21 Data presented in this publication for ANZSIC Division D, Subdivision 37 (Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage Services) are based on information collected from a sample of businesses and are, therefore, subject to sampling variability; that is, they may differ from the figures that would have been produced if the data had been obtained from all businesses in the population. One measure of the likely difference is given by the standard error (SE), which indicates the extent to which an estimate might have varied by chance because the data were obtained from only a sample of units. There are about 2 chances in 3 that a sample estimate will differ by less than one SE from the figure that would have been obtained if the data had been obtained from all units, and about 19 chances in20 that the difference will be less than 2 SEs.

22 The imprecision due to sampling variability, which is measured by the SE, should not be confused with inaccuracies that may occur because of inadequacies in available sources from which the population frame was compiled, imperfections in reporting from providers, errors made in collection such as recording and coding data, and errors made in processing data. Inaccuracies of this kind are referred to collectively as non-sampling error and they may occur in any enumeration, whether it be a census or a sample survey. Every effort is made to reduce non-sampling error to a minimum by careful design of questionnaires, editing processes, and efficient operating procedures.


23 ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is appreciated: without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


24 There are a number of external organisations that collect and present data about their respective industries. Should the user require further details it is recommended that the organisation should be contacted directly. Users may contact them at the following addresses
  • Electricity Supply Association of Australia
    Level 11, 74 Castlereagh Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
    telephone 02 9233 7222
    facsimile 02 9233 7244
    web site http:\\www.esaa.com.au
  • Australian Gas Association
    Level 3, 7-9 Moore Street, Canberra, ACT 2601
    telephone 02 6247 3955
    facsimile 02 6249 7402
    web site http:\\www.gas.asn.au
  • Australian Waste Water Association
    PO Box 388, Artarmon, NSW 1570
    telephone 02 9413 1288
    web site http:\\www.awa.asn.au
  • Water Services Association of Australia
    Level 7, 469 Latrobe Street, Melbourne, Vic. 3000
    telephone 03 9606 0678
    facsimile 03 9606 0376
    web site http:\\www.wsaa.asn.au
  • Productivity Commission
    PO Box 80, Belconnen, ACT 2616
    telephone 02 6240 3251
    facsimile 02 6240 3399
    web site http:\\www.pc.gov.au

25 The following publications provide key data for the electricity, gas and urban water supply industries in Australia:
  • Electricity Supply Association of Australia, 2001, Electricity Australia (annual), ESAA, Sydney
    Australian Gas Association, Gas Statistics, Australia (annual), AGA, Canberra
    Water Services Association of Australia, Australia’s Urban Water Industry: WSAA Facts, WSAA, Melbourne


26 Preliminary data on electricity and gas supply, and water and sewerage operations are published in the Business Operations and Industry Performance, Australia, Preliminary (cat. no. 8142.0). Users may also wish to refer to the following publications:
    • Australians and the Environment (cat. no. 4601.0) contains information on renewable energy, stormwater and sewage, and greenhouse gas emissions.
    • Australia’s Environment: Issues and Facts (cat. no. 4140.0) includes sections on greenhouse gas emission controls, sources and occurrences as well as Australia’s natural resources, water and energy.
    • Australia’s Environment (cat. no. 4613.0) presents a broad selection of environmental statistics and information which illustrate topical environmental issues. Themes include land use; energy use; marine and freshwater systems; waste and pollution.
    • Business Operations and Industry Performance, Australia (cat. no. 8140.0)
    • Directory of Electricity, Gas, Water and Sewerage Statistics (cat. no. 1140.0)
    • Electricity, Gas, Water and Sewerage Industries, Australia (cat. no. 8208.0)
    • Energy Accounts for Australia (cat. no. 4604.0)
    • Environment Protection Expenditure, Australia (cat. no. 4603.0)
    • Environmental Issues: People’s Views and Practices (cat. no. 4602.0) includes data on household water conservation practices.
    • Household Expenditure Survey, Australia: Summary of Results (cat. no. 6530.0) includes expenditure on fuel and power, and on water and sewerage rates.
    • Manufacturing Industry, Australia (cat. no. 8221.0)
    • Manufacturing Production, Australia (cat. no. 8301.0) (quarterly) which includes details of the production (quantity) of important manufactured commodities (including electricity and gas)-issued approximately four weeks after the month to which it relates.
    • Sales of Goods and Services by Businesses Involved in Water Related Activity in South Australia (cat. no. 1352.4).

    27 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are listed in the Catalogue of Publications and Products, Australia (cat. no. 1101.0). The Catalogue is available from any ABS office or the ABS web site. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the web site which details products to be released in the week ahead.


    28 As well as the statistics included in this and related publications, the ABS may have other relevant data available on request. Such data is available subject to it satisfying quality and confidentiality guidelines.

    29 Inquiries should be made to the ABS National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.


    30 Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between the sum of component items and the total.