4. Next steps

If WEBs are to play a more significant, reliable role in Australian practice, the current poor domestic estimates of key WEBs parameter values need to be improved. In 2014, the Australian Government engaged consultants to investigate the econometric modelling and data requirements to obtain a robust set of productivity elasticities for Australia (for agglomeration estimation), as well as the parameters needed to estimate the other WEBs. The report Developing productivity elasticities for estimating WEBs in Australia—Scoping Study was published in March 2015.

Following on from the scoping study, the Australian Government has commissioned consultants to work with the Australian Bureau of Statistics to undertake econometric and economic modelling to obtain the best possible set of parameter value estimates using currently available data for publication in the Guidelines. The work is expected to be completed by early 2017. Sets of parameters for individual jurisdictions will be made available prior to publication as they are finalised.

After completion of the WEBs parameter values estimation work, the ATAP Guidelines on WEBs will be updated. The updated Guidelines will set out a methodology for using the new parameter value estimates. This should enable WEBs to be estimated with greater confidence for Australian CBAs in the future. Whether estimation of WEBs will become reliable to the point where WEBs can be routinely counted with core benefits and costs in CBAs remains to be seen.