8226.0 - Electricity, Gas, Water and Sewerage Operations, Australia, 2001-02 and 2002-03  
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1 This publication, Electricity, Gas, Water and Sewerage Operations, Australia, 2001-02 and 2002-03 (cat. no. 8226.0), is the first to present data for the utilities industries compiled from the 2001-02 and 2002-03 collections, together with some revised and comparative statistics for 2000-01. This is also the first issue where the Australian Business Number (ABN) is the primary basis for the statistical units used to collect the data. (As a consequence, the scope of the collection has been expanded to include non-employers, although this has not had a significant effect upon the statistics presented.) For the last published survey (2000-01), the employing ABS 'management unit' was the sole statistical unit used to collect data. For more information about these changes to the annual utilities industries collection and how they affect data outputs, see Appendices 1 and 2.

2 These industries, as specified in Division D ELECTRICITY, GAS AND WATER SUPPLY of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) (cat. no. 1292.0), comprise:

  • ELECTRICITY SUPPLY (ANZSIC Group 361), which relates to the generation, transmission or distribution of electricity
  • GAS SUPPLY (ANZSIC Group 362), which relates to the manufacture of town gas from coal and/or petroleum, or the mains distribution of town gas, natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas
  • WATER SUPPLY, SEWERAGE AND DRAINAGE SERVICES (ANZSIC Group 370), which relates to the storage, purification or supply of water, or the operation of sewerage or drainage systems, including sewage treatment plants.

3 The utilities industries collection is conducted on an annual basis as a component of the Economic Activity Survey (EAS):
  • A sample of utilities industries businesses (approximately, 360 for 2001-02 and 400 for 2002-03) were asked to provide employment details and data obtained from statements of financial performance and position, mainly by mail out questionnaires. (Each sample included all businesses from the electricity and gas supply industries which were above certain cutoffs; and a sample of water supply, sewerage and drainage services industry businesses.)
  • For each year, key financial data for approximately 800 utilities industries businesses, which had been supplied by them to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) on business income tax returns (BIT data), were then used to supplement the ABS's directly collected information.
For details, see Appendix 1 paragraphs 5-12.


4 The ABS uses an economic statistics units model on the ABS Business Register (ABSBR) to describe the characteristics of businesses, and the structural relationships between related businesses. Within large and diverse business groups, the units model is also used to define reporting units that can provide data to the ABS at suitable levels of detail.

5 In mid 2002, to better use the information available as a result of The New Tax System (TNTS), the ABS changed its economic statistics units model. The new units model allocates businesses to one of two sub-populations. The vast majority of businesses are in what is called the ATO maintained population, while the remaining businesses are in the ABS maintained population. Together, these two sub-populations make up the ABSBR population.

ATO maintained population

6 Most businesses and organisations in Australia need to obtain an Australian Business Number (ABN), and are then included on the whole-of-government register of businesses, the Australian Business Register (ABR), which is maintained by the ATO. Most of these businesses have simple structures; therefore, the unit registered for an ABN will satisfy ABS statistical requirements. For these businesses, the ABS has aligned its statistical units structure with the ABN unit. The businesses with simple structures constitute the ATO maintained population, and the ABN unit is used as the statistical unit for all ABS economic collections.

ABS maintained population

7 For the population of businesses where the ABN unit is not suitable for ABS statistical requirements, the ABS maintains its own units structure through direct contact with the business. These businesses constitute the ABS maintained population. This population consists typically of large, complex and diverse businesses. The new statistical units model described below has been introduced to cover such businesses.

Enterprise group: This is a unit covering all the operations in Australia of one or more legal entities under common ownership and/or control. It covers all the operations in Australia of legal entities which are related in terms of the current Corporations Law (as amended by the Corporations Legislation Amendment Act 1991), including legal entities such as companies, trusts and partnerships. Majority ownership is not required for control to be exercised.

Enterprise: The enterprise is an institutional unit comprising:
(i) a single legal entity or business entity, or
(ii) more than one legal entity or business entity within the same enterprise group and in the same institutional sub-sector (i.e. they are all classified to a single Standard Institutional Sector Classification of Australia (SISCA) sub-sector).

Type of activity unit (TAU): The TAU is comprised of one or more business entities, sub-entities or branches of a business entity within an enterprise group that can report production and employment data for similar economic activities. When a minimum set of data items are available, a TAU is created which covers all the operations within an industry subdivision (and the TAU is classified to the relevant subdivision of the ANZSIC). Where a business cannot supply adequate data for each industry, a TAU is formed which contains activity in more than one industry subdivision.

8 For more information about the effects of the introduction of the new economic statistics units model, refer to Information Paper: Improvements in ABS Economic Statistics [Arising from The New Tax System] (cat. no. 1372.0).

Comparison over time

9 For the 2000-01 year, the utilities industries collection used the management unit as the statistical unit. For 2001-02 and later years, the statistical unit is the ABN unit for businesses with simple structures, and the TAU for businesses with complex structures. In most cases, ABN units / TAUs will concord with the management units used prior to the 2001-02 year.


10 The scope of the 2001-02 and 2002-03 utilities industries collections comprises all businesses (including non-employing businesses) on the ABSBR at time of selection, whose industry is classified to ANZSIC Division D ELECTRICITY, GAS AND WATER SUPPLY. This division comprises the following subdivisions and their component groups and classes:

36 Electricity and Gas Supply
361 Electricity Supply
3610 Electricity Supply
362 Gas Supply
3620 Gas Supply
37 Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage Services
370 Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage Services
3701 Water Supply
3702 Sewerage and Drainage Services

11 Statistics in this publication are presented by chapter for each of ANZSIC Groups 361 ELECTRICITY SUPPLY, 362 GAS SUPPLY, and 370 WATER SUPPLY, SEWERAGE AND DRAINAGE SERVICES.

12 The ANZSIC-based industry statistics presented in this publication are compiled differently from activity statistics. Each ABN unit or TAU on the ABSBR has been classified (by the ATO and the ABS respectively) to a single industry irrespective of any diversity of activities undertaken. The industry class allocated is the one which provides the main source of income. For example, a business which derives most of its income from electricity generation activities would have all operations included in the aggregates and ratios for ELECTRICITY SUPPLY, even if significant secondary activities (such as water supply, coal mining, or retailing) were undertaken. This particularly occurs in both the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, where water and sewerage data exclude data for their major water suppliers, since those businesses are classified as part of the electricity supply industry.

13 Electricity generation is also sometimes undertaken by a business mainly engaged in other activities (e.g. a manufacturing business) 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 supply industry and, therefore, do not contribute to these statistics.

14 Businesses mainly engaged in the distribution of liquefied petroleum gas in bulk or in containers are not treated as part of the gas supply industry, as they are classified to ANZSIC Division F WHOLESALE TRADE.

15 The ABS maintained population of the ABSBR includes all general government organisations classified according to the Standard Institutional Sector Classification of Australia (SISCA). Where a general government authority operates a number of business units each coinciding with a 'division' or 'line of business' with separate and comprehensive accounts, then each of these business units is recorded as a separate TAU on the ABSBR, and its industry allocated according to the predominant activity of that TAU. For example, a local government council recorded on the ABSBR as operating separate TAUs for general services, electricity supply, water supply, and sewerage operations would have the three latter TAUs included in the scope of the utilities industries collection.

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

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

18 Unincorporated joint ventures (UJVs) within the utilities industries are arrangements which allow the sharing of expertise, resources and risk associated with specific projects. This occurs through the participation of a number of organisations (by investment) in a specific operation (e.g. a power station). Some of these organisations may not otherwise be involved in that industry.

19 The utilities industries collection includes such businesses which are operators and/or participants in UJVs. Generally, each participant supplies data on its share of income and assets, while the operator reports all expenses and employment.

20 The ABS attempts to obtain data for those businesses which ceased operation during the year, but it is not possible to obtain data for all of them.


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

22 Financial data presented incorporate all units in scope of the particular utilities industries collection that were in production stage at any time during the year. They also include any temporarily inactive units, i.e. those units which were in the development stage or which were not in production, but which still existed and held assets and liabilities and/or incurred some non-operating expenses (e.g. depreciation, administration costs).


23 For information on this subject, see Technical Notes.


24 This publication presents a wide range of data that can be used to analyse business and industry performance.

25 Differences in accounting policy and practices across businesses and industries can lead to some inconsistencies in the data input to the statistics. While much of the accounting process is subject to standards, there is still a great deal of flexibility left to managers and accountants 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 issues as depreciation rates, bad debt provisions and write off, and goodwill write off.

26 A range of performance measures, usually expressed as ratios, can be produced from the data available from businesses' statements of financial performance and position. The ratios presented in this publication comprise:

  • income ratios, which indicate the efficiency of selling activities (including the sale of services as well as goods)
  • profitability ratios, which measure rates of profit on sales, funds and assets
  • liquidity ratios, which measure the ability of businesses to meet short-term financial obligations, i.e. how quickly selected assets can be converted into cash
  • debt ratios, which 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, which measure the relative profitability and costs of labour
  • capital expenditure ratios, which indicate capacity for and extent of business investment in capital assets.

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

28 Those ratios compiled from a combination of flow and level items need to be treated with additional caution. The information contained in statements of financial position indicate the level of assets and liabilities at a point in time. Information contained in statements of financial performance summarise the flows (or transactions) which have taken place during the past financial year. Ratios which include both level and flow items in their derivation may be volatile due to the timing differences involved. It may, therefore, be preferable to base any analysis on a range of data presented rather than focusing on one variable.

29 The varying degree to which businesses consolidate their accounts may also affect the ratios calculated.

30 The above limitations are not meant to imply that analysis based on these data should be avoided, only that they should be borne in mind when interpreting the data presented in this publication.


31 State and territory summary estimates for the electricity supply industry are presented in Chapter 1. To enable the production of these estimates, state or territory data for businesses which were part of the mail out survey were allocated on the basis of state/territory of head office (rather than reported state/territory of activity). Care should, therefore, be taken in interpreting state/territory movements in the data in the tables in this chapter. This is because these movements will reflect movements in the data based on head office of individual businesses, as well as actual increases/decreases in activity. The relevant data for all other businesses, including those whose contribution was sourced from BIT data, were allocated to their state/territory of operations as recorded on the ABSBR. Statistical modelling enabled the production of state and territory estimates for industry value added.


32 Data in this publication have been adjusted to allow for lags in processing new businesses to the ABSBR. The effects of these adjustments on Australian estimates of sales and service income are:

  • for 2001-02:
      • for ELECTRICITY SUPPLY, an increase of 0.2%, with most states and territories being affected to a similar degree
      • for GAS SUPPLY, an increase of 0.7%
      • for WATER SUPPLY, SEWERAGE AND DRAINAGE SERVICES, an increase of 0.3%
  • for 2002-03:
      • for ELECTRICITY SUPPLY, an increase of 0.5%, with most states and territories being affected to a similar degree
      • for GAS SUPPLY, an increase of 0.6%
      • for WATER SUPPLY, SEWERAGE AND DRAINAGE SERVICES, an increase of 0.1%.


33 Employment estimates (and related ratios) have been excluded from this issue, due to reliability problems with the modelling of ATO BIT data intended to provide employment estimates for non-sampled ABN units. When these problems are resolved, estimates will be made available.


34 ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much 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.


35 The ABS produces industry estimates for a range of selected industries (including utilities) and these results are to be available in Australian Industry, 2001-02 and 2002-03 (cat. no. 8155.0) to be released on 20 December 2004. National estimates of income, expenditure, assets and liabilities and associated ratios will be available at the ANZSIC division level. Data presenting greater detail are considered experimental at this stage, while the methodology used to produce them is reviewed and improved. These consist of national estimates of income, expenses, operating profit before tax (OPBT), and wages and salaries, at the ANZSIC subdivision group level, and state/territory estimates of these items at the ANZSIC division level.

36 Users may also wish to refer to the following publications
Australian Industry, 2000-01, cat. no. 8155.0, released on 27 August 2003 - Annual publication
Australian Labour Market Statistics, cat. no. 6105.0 - Quarterly publication
Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product, cat. no. 5206.0 - Quarterly publication
Australian National Accounts: State Accounts, 2002-03, cat. no. 5220.0, released on 12 November 2003 - Annual publication
Australian System of National Accounts: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2000, cat. no. 5216.0, released on 21 December 2000 - Irregular publication
Australia’s Environment: Issues and Trends, 2003, cat. no. 4613.0, released on 31 July 2003 - Annual publication
Business Indicators, Australia, cat. no. 5676.0 - Quarterly publication
Business Operations and Industry Performance, Australia, 2000-01, cat. no. 8140.0, released on 6 December 2002 - Final issue
Directory of Electricity, Gas, Water and Sewerage Statistics, cat. no. 1140.0, released on 1 May 2001 - Irregular publication
Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Accounts, Australia, 1992-93 to 1997-98, cat. no. 4604.0, released on 16 May 2001 - Irregular publication
Energy Statistics, Australia, 2001-02, cat. no. 4649.0.55.001, released on 19 December 2003 - Irregular publication
Environment Protection Expenditure, Australia, 2000-01, cat. no. 4603.0, released on 4 September 2002 - Biennial publication
Environmental Issues: People’s Views and Practices, March 2003, cat. no. 4602.0, released on 26 November 2003 - Annual publication
Household Expenditure Survey, Australia: Summary of Results, 1998-99, cat. no. 6530.0, released on 28 June 2000 - Quinquennial publication
Information Paper: ABS Statistics and The New Tax System, 2000, cat. no. 1358.0, released on 26 April 2000 - Irregular publication
Information Paper: Improvements in ABS Economic Statistics [Arising from The New Tax System], cat. no. 1372.0, released on 6 May 2002 - Irregular publication
Job Vacancies, Australia, cat. no. 6354.0 - Quarterly publication
Labour Costs, Australia, 2002-03, cat. no. 6348.0.55.001, released on 11 June 2004 - Irregular electronic publication
Labour Price Index, Australia, cat. no. 6345.0 - Quarterly publication (renamed from Wage Cost Index, Australia)
Manufacturing Production, Australia,
cat. no. 8301.0.55.001 - Quarterly electronic publication
Private New Capital Expenditure and Expected Expenditure, Australia, cat. no. 5625.0 - Quarterly publication
Research and Experimental Development, Businesses, Australia, 2002-03, cat. no. 8104.0, released on 6 September 2004 - Annual publication
Water Account, Australia, 2000-01, cat. no. 4610.0, released on 19 May 2004 - Irregular publication
Year Book Australia, 2004, cat. no. 1301.0, released on 27 February 2004 - Annual publication

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

Non-ABS data

38 There are a number of external organisations that collect and present data about their respective industries. Users requiring further information should contact:

      Electricity Supply Association of Australia Ltd, Sydney (02) 9261 0141 web site <http://www.esaa.com.au> (for key data, see the ESAA's annual publication Electricity Australia)
      Australian Gas Association, Canberra (02) 6272 1555 web site <http://www.gas.asn.au> (for key data, see the AGA's annual publication Gas Statistics, Australia)
      Australian Water Association Ltd., Sydney (02) 9413 1288 web site <http://www.awa.asn.au>
      Water Services Association of Australia, Melbourne (03) 9606 0678 web site <http://www.wsaa.asn.au> (for key data, see the WSAA's annual publication Australia’s Urban Water Industry: WSAA Facts)
      Productivity Commission, Melbourne (03) 9653 2100 and Canberra (02) 6240 3200 web site <http://www.pc.gov.au>


39 As well as the statistics included in this and related publications, the ABS may have other relevant data available on request and for a charge. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.


40 Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between totals and the sums of the component items.

41 Proportions, ratios and other calculated figures shown in this publication have been calculated using unrounded estimates and may be different from, but are more accurate than, calculations based on the rounded estimates.