New South Wales

Cost Benefit Analysis Forum 2023

CBA has long been a key tool for public policy but, over the past year high-profile stories, both State and Federal, have emphasised  the importance of having public accountability and a strong evidence base in decisions.

The 2023 CBA Forum is a unique opportunity to meet, re-engage with and learn from colleagues, peers and industry experts across a wide range of disciplines and organisations.

The programme is of interest to experienced practitioners, those new to developing CBAs and people who rely on CBAs for supporting decision-making.

Experts in the theory, policy and application of CBA are part of an exciting program that includes:

  • the newly created Australian Centre for Evaluation;
  • updates to national and NSW CBA guidance;
  • exploring distribution, equity and diversity in CBA: and
  • practical CBA sessions on tools and techniques, guides and practice, and case studies.

For people new to CBA, in the lead up to the forum, we had a re-run of last year’s popular  “Introduction to CBA” preliminary session, based on NSW Treasury Guidelines. This Zoom session preceded the Forum on Friday, August  4th, from approximately 10am until 12.15pm.  There was no cost to attend.  Click here to see the agenda.

The Forum was designed as an in-person event, and this year the Society was fortunate to have the use of Deloitte’s new Quay-side facilities for both the Forum and the post-event networking function. On-line attendance was available for Economic Society members who are unable to attend in-person or if in-person capacity was filled.  


Date: Tuesday 8 August
Time: All day event, starting at 8.45am
Venue Partner: Deloitte, Quay Quarter Tower, Level 46, enter via 25 Phillip Street, Circular Quay
Cost:  $185 members / $235 non-members (join or renew) Contact Us if you need help with your login

View the Program

Meet our Speakers, Panellists and Chairs

Note - the Infrastructure Australia session: Update on independent review of Infrastructure Australia has been deferred - it will be held as a standalone seminar at a later date


Nicki Hutley, Independent Economist


Nicki Hutley is a highly experienced economist, with broad-based expertise in both macroeconomics and microeconomic policy gained over more than three decades in financial and investment markets and in economic consulting.  She is particularly interested in the intersection of economy, society and environment.  


Joann Wilkie, Deputy Secretary (Economic Strategy & Productivity Group) NSW Dept of Treasury

Welcome Address

Joann Wilkie joined NSW Treasury in February 2019 as Deputy Secretary for the Economic Strategy & Productivity Group. In this role, she leads the delivery of economic and revenue forecasting; provision of advice on economic policy and reform, including on productivity; and engagement with Commonwealth, State and Territories on key national reforms and issues.


The Hon. Andrew Leigh MP

Andrew Leigh is the Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury, and Federal Member for Fenner in the ACT. Prior to being elected in 2010, Andrew was a professor of economics at the Australian National University. He holds a PhD in Public Policy from Harvard, having graduated from the University of Sydney with first class honours in Arts and Law. Andrew is a past recipient of the Economic Society of Australia's Young Economist Award and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences.

Photo credit to Hilary Wardhaugh


Harry Greenwell, ACE

ACE Implementation and PANEL: Distribution, Eqity and Diversity in CBA

Harry Greenwell leads the Impact Evaluation Unit at the Australian Centre for Evaluation in the Australian Treasury. He was previously the head of the Trial Design and Evaluation Unit at the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government (BETA), where he oversaw numerous randomised control trials. In the past, he worked on competition and regulatory policy, and tax and transfer reform, including in PNG and Solomon Islands. Outside of work, Harry has a keen interest in effective altruism, and enjoys playing ultimate frisbee.


Robert Smith, CBA Chair and Session Chair

CBA Art & Science - an update & issues & CBA Forum Chair and Session Chair 

Robert Smith is a  council member/ former vice president of the ESA NSW branch.  Currently the Principal Economist at East Economics, he has a background in management consulting, banking and finance, infrastructure, transport  and energy. He is passionate about using economics to find creative, efficient, and practical solutions that can be explained with clear and compelling narratives. This includes using applied economics analysis to support informed decision through pragmatic and robust cost benefit analysis.  


Peter Leventis, NSW Treasury

New developments in NSW CBA guidelines

Peter Leventis is an economist and public policy professional with a deep well of experience spanning almost 20 years across a broad range of organisations including Treasury, IPART, Premier and Cabinet, Office of Environment and Heritage, Econtech and the Reserve Bank of Australia. Peter holds a Master of Economics from ANU and a Bachelor of Commerce (Hons) from Deakin University.


Georgina Collins, NSW Treasury

New developments in NSW CBA guidelines

Georgina Collins is an economist and public policy professional with more than a decade of experience in the public and private sector. She started her career in the Commonwealth Treasury and has worked in consulting (ACIL Allen), international development (Pretoria, South Africa) and for a range of NSW Government agencies including the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Create NSW, Regional NSW and Treasury. 


Sarah Close, PwC

PANEL: Distribution, Equity and Diversity in CBA

Sarah Close is a Partner in PwC's Government advisory team and is an economics specialist. She has spent 18 years specialising in feasibility studies and economic analysis for major infrastructure, regulatory, technology and policy decisions. This has involved undertaking economic analysis across a range of sectors including transport, precincts, tourism infrastructure, social and affordable housing, energy and environment, schools, hospitals, regulatory and digital change. Through her work Sarah is passionate about improving people’s lives, enhancing productivity and shaping land use to create cities, regions and communities of the future. She brings a diversity of perspectives having lived overseas in Europe and Asia for 3 years, in both Denmark and China. 


Samuel Miller, Sparrowly Group

Mastering Risk and Uncertainty with Monte Carlo-Powered CBA

Samuel Miller is a Senior Economist for the Sparrowly Group, and has undertaken extensive economic impact, program evaluation and business case development work on behalf of Government and non-Government clients throughout NSW and Australia. His areas of expertise include regional economic development, the economics of water, and natural and built environments.


Muheed Jamaldeen, Deloitte

Valuing Place-making in CBA

Muheed advises public and private sector clients on a range of public policy and strategy issues. He has expertise in transport, infrastructure, and urban policy sectors leading work on a range of topics related to freight, supply chains, natural disaster risk reduction, investment policy, cities and regions, and regulation. Muheed works on Cost Benefit Analysis applied to these sectors of expertise



Dennis McCarthy, The CIE

Connected and automated vehicles CBA

Dennis is an economist with a focus on quantitative economic and statistical analysis. Economic models often need to be complex to account for the range of moving parts at play in settings such as regulated markets. However, they must also be user-friendly so as to provide maximum usefulness for clients. Dennis has developed many interactive economic tools that rely on detailed economic or statistical modelling ‘under the hood’, but are easy to use for scenario testing and sensitivity analysis. Bespoke modelling tools have been constructed for a range of sectors including energy, healthcare, telecommunications and waste.


Tomas Berry, The CIE

Connected and automated vehicles CBA

Tomas is an economist with broad-ranging experience in economic, financial and corporate advisory. He uses quantitative and critical analysis to advise on complex economic issues with a thorough and considered understanding of the multiple stakeholders in the economy.


Kirsten Jensen, The New Zealand Treasury


Kirsten Jensen is a principal advisor economist at the New Zealand Treasury, where she focuses on public finance and leads CBAx. CBAx is Treasury’s cost-benefit analysis tool, which is publicly available. Kirsten is responsible for the design and implementation of CBAx.


Sanjeev Sabhlok, UNSW

Covid Wellbeing CBA

Sanjeev Sabhlok began his career in 1982 as a senior civil servant in India and resigned in 2001, in the rank of Commissioner (equivalent to a Major General in the armed forces). He then migrated to Australia and worked in the Victorian Treasury in Melbourne for 15 years as a senior economist. He has a Ph.D. in economics from the USA and has published a number of articles and books, including a cost-benefit analysis of Australia's covid lockdowns with Prof Gigi Foster. He currently teaches economics from time to time, and works in a casual research role at the UNSW.


Neil Perry, Western Sydney University

Doing or Cheating - Chat CBA? & PANEL: AIming for better CBAs

Neil is an Associate Professor in Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability. He specialises in progressive economics approaches to environmental economics and policy and in ecological economics, an interdisciplinary field emphasising the interdependence of economic, social and ecological values. His research on the economics of biodiversity conservation, policy to combat climate change, and heterodox environmental economics is published in Ecological Economics, the Journal of Economic Perspectives, the Journal of Australian Political Economy, and Wildlife Research.


Ophelia Cowell, Investment NSW

PANEL: AIming for better CBAs

Ophelia Cowell is the Executive Director, Delivery and Innovation at DEIT, and previously directed the Centre for Evidence and Evaluation at NSW Treasury. The Centre provides economic analysis and advice to the NSW Government to put evidence-based policy into practice and direct initiatives towards outcomes with the greatest public value. 


Nick Hull, Deloitte

PANEL: AIming for better CBAs?

Nick Hull is a director in Deloitte Access Economics’ Technology and Telecommunications practice. During the past seven years at Deloitte Access Economics Nick has specialised in quantifying the benefits of digital technologies to business and the economy and exploring trends in the digital workforce in Australia.


Peter Abelson, Applied Economics

Session Chair - Breakout Stream B

Peter Abelson has a B.A. from Oxford University, M.Sc. (Economics) from the London School of Economics, and a Ph.D from London University. Peter held a Personal Chair in Economics at Macquarie University. From 2006 to 2012, Peter was a Visiting Scholar and taught public finance at the University of Sydney. Peter is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University.


Michael Potter

Session Chair - Breakout Stream A

Michael Potter is an economist working in the financial services industry. He has worked at the Commonwealth Treasury, the Parliamentary Budget Office, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and several national industry associations. He has over 20 years’ experience in public policy, particularly economics and tax issues. Michael has a Master of Applied Economics from the Australian National University, and Bachelor of Economics with honours from the University of Sydney.


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