NB: AS AGA's origins are quite obviously gas industry related, the following is a brief overview of that sectors development. The current electrical and plumbing sectors are likely to have evolved from quite different backgrounds.
Early Gas Industry Structure
Gas first emerged as an energy source in Australia around the mid 1800's, growing over the next 100 years into a number of local gas companies operating within State borders. These local companies developed reticulation systems and infrastructure and produced gas by processing coal/coke in retort houses. The gas was stored in large gas holders and, by todays standards, could be described as a less efficient and far from an environmentally friendly fuel. During the second half of the 1900's, many of these small gas companies merged or disappeared until a dominant regional organisation remained. In most cases, this regionally dominant company was government owned or controlled.
Industry Safety Concerns
These larger gas utility organisations effectively had responsibility for regional public safety as well as supply. General gas industry safety concerns led to the establishment of the Australian Gas Association (AGA), a technical and safety-focused organisation with origins dating back to 1935 when it was then known as the National Gas Association. The organisation has operated under the AGA name since 1962 and still retains its original technical and safety-based focus for the benefit of industry.
To help ensure a common and technically sound approach to gas safety, the Utilities financed the AGA to support its national standards-writing process and to ensure an effective and economical product certification mechanism. To this day, AGA continues to operate as a not-for-profit industry association and remains committed to supporting the industry in its promotion of gas as a clean, safe source of energy for domestic, commercial and industrial customers. Although transferring the standards-writing function to Standards Australia on 1 July 2003, AGA still provides a cost-effective, regulatory-endorsed and internationally-regarded national product certification service on behalf of the industry.
Evolution of Gas Industry
Since the early 1970's, gas has primarily been sourced from Australian off-shore natural gas fields. The use of other types of gas is still a viable energy choice for those consumers without access to the extensive natural gas pipeline grid that exists today. With the advent of privatisation in the gas industry during the 1990's, the old Utility structures were largely dismantled and sold off. In conjunction with this, the regulatory role previously built into the old structures was relocated to appropriate, and often new, State or Territory government departments. Just as many private gas companies have added non-gas products to their businesses, gas appliance and component suppliers are increasingly dealing in non-gas equipment. To recognise the new competitive landscape, AGA has restructured its operations and is broadening its product certification activities so that it can offer customers a one-stop shop certification service to cover gas, electrical, electronic and water-related products.