Case studies

Synergies has completed assignments across a wide range of industry sectors and topic areas. The case studies below demonstrate our breadth of experience and how we apply many innovative techniques to inform better decisions.

Synergies

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Access Policy Independent Expert

Synergies is Australia’s leading advisor on pricing and economic regulation in the port sector. In 2017, Synergies was engaged by Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal Pty Ltd (WICET) to undertake an independent review of the Wiggins Island Terminal Access Policy. The Access Policy sets out the rules for allocating, managing and expanding capacity at the Terminal.

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Arbitrating for more efficient shipping channel services at Newcastle Port

In 2018, the Australia’s competition regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) arbitrated a dispute between Glencore Coal Pty Ltd and Port of Newcastle (PNO) over the charges set by PNO for Glencore’s use of the channel assets at the Port of Newcastle.

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Pricing strategies at Australia seaports

Synergies is a leading advisor in the port sector, working collaboratively with many ports both big and small, city based and regional, bulk and non-bulk, private and government owned, across Australia to refine their pricing strategy to meet their broader objectives. This pricing intelligence is a vital input to ensure that a port is well positioned to meet the challenges of future demand as well as build on the opportunities to secure long term sustainable ...

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Port supply chain costs at the Port of Melbourne

Synergies has extensive experience in examining the costs and incentive structures within various freight supply chains in Australia. We have a depth of knowledge of the economic and commercial structure of supply chains and the way that economic regulation can, and in practice does, impact these supply chains. Most recently we were engaged by Patrick Terminals to prepare an economic analysis of the container supply chain at the Port of Melbourne, to assist Patrick ...

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Impact assessment of the proposed CRC for Transformation in Mining Economies

The University of Western Australia, in partnership with University of Queensland, is leading a bid to establish a Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) to investigate new technologies and improved practices for mine closure. The rehabilitation and relinquishment of mines that have come to the end of their life is becoming an increasingly important issue for the mining sector, both here in Australia and internationally. With billions of dollars invested in mine rehabilitation each year, it is ...

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Promoting efficient pricing for shipping channel services at Newcastle Port

Synergies, acting on behalf of Glencore prepared a series of submissions in 2018 and 2019 setting out the economic rationale for continued declaration of Newcastle Port’s shipping channel. Glencore, is a major user of shipping channel services at Newcastle as a major coal producer and exporter in the Hunter Valley. As such Glencore depends on access to the shipping channel based on reasonable terms and conditions.

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WA rail access framework review

The WA Government is reviewing the WA rail access regime as established by the Railways (Access) Act 1998 and the Railways (Access) Code 2000. The regime has been in operations for over 15 years. The review aims to improve the existing regime to meet its objective, which is focused on encouraging the efficient use of, and investment in, railway facilities by facilitating a contestable market for rail operations. The current light-handed regime has several ...

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The value of investing in R&D for the WA sheep industry

The WA sheep industry makes a significant contribution to the State’s economy, and has experienced a resurgence in recent years on the back of strong wool prices and productivity gains, particularly in lamb meat production. At present, the industry generates approximately $1.25 billion in sales and employs around 5000 people directly, with a further 1, 350 indirect jobs. But the industry is facing challenges and will need to maintain it’s productivity growth trajectory to remain ...

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Economic benefits of strategic environmental assessment for Perth-Peel region

Over the next 30 years, around 18, 000 hectares of native vegetation is expected to be cleared in metropolitan Perth to accommodate the state’s growing population. In order to improve the level of protection afforded to the environment, while ensuring economic development can proceed, the WA State Government has commenced work on preparing a Strategic Assessment for the Perth-Peel Region (SAPPR). Synergies was engaged to assist with evaluating the costs and benefits of the proposed ...

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Economic impact of the WA Biodiversity Science Institute

The Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute (WABSI) was established by the WA government in 2015 to perform the role of a ‘science broker’, with the purpose fostering greater collaboration in finding practical, strategic solutions to the State’s biodiversity management challenges. WABSI’s stakeholders include the mining industry, government, researchers and non-government organisations. Synergies was engaged by the WABSI board to prepare an independent review of the value and impact of the Institute over the past four ...

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The economics of responding to drought in Greater Sydney

Sydney Water engaged Synergies to develop an economic framework for quantifying the risks, costs and benefits of a drought management strategy for Greater Sydney. The framework examines the optimal sequence of new water supply projects as Sydney’s storage levels drop. The optimal strategy is one that avoids the risk of storages falling below critical levels (and triggering the need for very significant water restrictions), while minimising the cost of investing in capital projects that may ...

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Please hold: costing telco customer wait times

Synergies was engaged by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) for advice on estimating the value of consumers’ time wasted (“time forgone”) trying to resolve customer service issues and the cost to consumers of intermittent or delayed supply (“reliability”). The aim of the advice was to provide an evidence base and a source of practical guidance on matters including how to apply non-market valuation techniques in the telecommunications context and the strengths and limitations ...

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Evaluating ‘Royalties for Regions’ investment in WA tourism projects

Over the past 10 years, Royalties for Regions (RfR) has provided $208 million in funding for regional tourism projects in Western Australia, with a wide diversity of projects being funded across nine development regions. Synergies undertook an evaluation to provide insight to the extent to which the RfR investments have contributed to economic growth and what factors need to be considered for future public investment in regional tourism.

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Peer Review of the Economic Analysis of the Nullinga Dam Preliminary Business Case

Synergies was engaged by Building Queensland to undertake a peer review of the economic analysis conducted as part of the Preliminary Business Case (PBC) for the proposed Nullinga Dam. The PBC identified an opportunity to expand irrigated agricultural production in the Atherton Tablelands through the supply of medium priority water entitlements from the proposed dam. The report presented to Building Queensland identified critical issues in relation to both the water demand assessment and economic analysis.

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Economic, financial and social impacts of the Subiaco East redevelopment project

LandCorp engaged Synergies to assess the economic, financial and social impacts of a range of concept plans for the Subiaco East redevelopment project, which focused on the redevelopment of key sites marked for demolition and decommissioning into a vibrant, mixed-use city village. Synergies’ analysis informed decisions around the preferred concept plan based on a range of criteria. A preferred option was recommended for approval as part of the submission of the Detailed Business Case to ...

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Modelling urban public transport expenditure levels

Synergies, in collaboration with Jacobs, was engaged by the Commonwealth Grants Commission (CGC) to review and improve the model currently used to determine State urban transport and infrastructure expenditure requirements. The model we proposed will help form the basis for the future allocation of transport-related GST funds. The report was recently published on the CGC website and can be downloaded below.

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Independent verifier of Transpower’s RCP3 expenditure proposal

Synergies (in partnership with GHD Advisory) was engaged by Transpower to provide an independent verification opinion on Transpower’s third regulatory control period (RCP3) base capital expenditure and operating expenditure forecasts relating to the 2020-25 period. This included testing the assumptions underpinning Transpower’s expenditure and demand forecasts prior to the submittal of its RCP3 proposal, as well as making recommendations to enhance the substantiation of specific components of its expenditure proposal.

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Assessing the Economic Value of Bulk Water Infrastructure in Regional Queensland

Synergies was engaged by Queensland Treasury Corporation (QTC), on behalf of the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (NRME), to develop a methodology to assess the economic value derived from the productive use of water from bulk water infrastructure in regional Queensland. The methodology was also applied to two water supply schemes – the Proserpine River and Nogoa Mackenzie Water Supply Schemes.

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Assessing the economic benefits of the QUT Health and Wellness Precinct

Synergies was engaged by the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) to assess the economic benefits of the proposed QUT Health and Wellness Precinct, which will be designed to operate as a hub of excellence for translational research, innovation, teaching and learning with a strong focus on evolving technology. The project involved assessing the economic benefits of several programs and initiatives that are similar to the activities to be conducted within the Precinct in addition to ...

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Assessing intermodal competition in non-bulk freight transport

Euan Morton of Synergies was engaged as an independent economic expert by Clayton Utz (representing Pacific National (PN)), in court proceedings initiated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) who alleged that PN’s proposed acquisition of Aurizon’s intermodal business would substantially lessen competition in the transportation of non-bulk freight. Synergies examined the relevant market(s) for intercity non-bulk freight services and the effectiveness of road and rail competition and, in particular, the influence of road ...

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Assessing the economic benefits of restoring the historic Esperance Tanker Jetty

The Shire of Esperance is examining options for replacing the 80-year-old Esperance Tanker Jetty, which is currently in a dilapidated state. Synergies, in partnership with Whitney Consulting, was engaged by the Shire to prepare a cost benefit analysis as part of a business case for restoring the structure, with consequent tourism and amenity benefits for Esperance. The Shire used the business case and supporting analysis to apply for funding from the Australian Government’s Building Better ...

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The economics of options for managing groundwater in Perth’s Gnangara area

The Gnangara Mound just north of Perth is an important source of groundwater for public water supply, agriculture, and other users. Groundwater levels have been falling over the last 20 years or due to declining rainfall, increased groundwater abstraction in line with population growth, and the impact of pine plantations in the area that use considerable volumes of water. Synergies was engaged by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) to quantify the economic ...

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The Economic Impact of Robotics and Automation

Synergies investigated the implications of robotics and automation for the Queensland economy for the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). The report comprehensively surveyed the international experience of increased automation and found that the Queensland economy was particularly well placed to adapt to and benefit from increased automation.

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Economic evaluation of the Burnett River to Howard Water Supply Pipeline Project

Synergies was engaged by the Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning (DSDMIP) to conduct the economic analysis of the Burnett River (Paradise Dam) to Howard Water Supply Pipeline Project (the Burnett River pipeline project) in accordance with the requirements for a Preliminary Evaluation as set out in the Queensland Government’s Project Assessment Framework.

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Mapping short to medium term shifts in the structure of labour markets

Synergies was engaged by Jobs Queensland to investigate the short to medium term shifts in the structure of labour markets in Queensland and Queensland regions, concentrating upon likely shifts in industrial and occupation employment. Results from the shift-share analysis and regional modelling were to be used by Jobs Queensland to inform labour market scenarios in upcoming detailed investigations.

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Assessing the economic benefits and costs of regulation in Australia’s sugar industry

Synergies was engaged by Canegrowers and the Australian Cane Farmers Association (ACFA) to assess the economic benefits and costs of the Competition and Consumer (Industry Code – Sugar) Regulations 2017 (the Code). The project included a detailed assessment of the sugar industry, the conduct of its participants and the rationale for light-handed regulation of the marketing of raw sugar. The project assessed the Code’s impact on the industry since its implementation in 2017 and the ...

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ATCO’s proposed Network Innovation Scheme

Synergies was engaged by ATCO Gas (ATCO) to prepare an expert report establishing the economic case for an innovation incentive scheme – the Network Innovation Scheme – to be incorporated into its proposed access arrangement to the WA Economic Regulation Authority (ERA) for the 2020 to 2024 regulatory period. The proposed Network Innovation Scheme was intended to be in the long-term interests of WA gas consumers through encouraging ATCO Gas to seek out new and ...

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Reviewing Sydney Water’s obligations to service wholesale customers

In 2006 the NSW government introduced new legislation to facilitate competition in the provision of water and wastewater services. Since that time, a number of independent water utilities have emerged. These utilities can, and do, compete with Sydney Water in delivering services to retail customers. In this study, Synergies was engaged by the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) to examine whether there should be any specific obligations imposed on Sydney Water to ensure ...

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Commercial feasibility of recycled wastewater for industrial supply in WA’s Western Trade Coast

The Western Trade Coast (WTC) is a 3, 900 hectare industrial region adjacent to Cockburn Sound, just south of Fremantle in Western Australia. Planning provisions have been made to accommodate the development of new heavy industry in the region. Over the next 10 years it is forecast that an additional 6.4 gigalitres of water will be required to support the growing needs of industry. This level of demand is expected to exhaust all remaining ‘in ...

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Assessing the feasibility of the NuWater project

Synergies was engaged by the Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) to undertake a water demand assessment and to assess the economic and financial and commercial feasibility of the NuWater project – a proposal to supply recycled wastewater from treatment plants in South East Queensland to agricultural producers in the Lockyer Valley and on the Darling Downs.

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