Australia has long been an innovator in the provision and regulation of utility services. The development of the statutory authority model – one of our more successful if not necessarily more beneficial exports – was an early attempt to more sharply separate the commercial activities involved in providing service from the exercise of political and regulatory control. Even then – a century ago – the virtues of transparency, consistency and accountability were accepted in theory, albeit more rarely in practice.
In the last decade, the Australian tradition of regulatory innovation has continued, with 'incentive regulation' being at the centre of many of the initiatives taken. This conference is a timely opportunity to stand back and draw some lessons from those initiatives.