In the decade and a half since the Productivity Commission was formally established, it has completed 110 inquiries and other commissioned studies and made some 1500 policy recommendations to governments. All of these recommendations were made because the Commission judged that their implementation would enhance Australians’ living standards and quality of life.
In many cases, they would do so by raising the capacity of Australia’s economy to produce valued goods and services — in other words, by raising its ‘productivity’. On a rough reckoning, around two-thirds of the Commission’s recommendations over the years have been accepted and (more or less) implemented by governments.
That is not a bad strike rate, given that our reports typically deal with complex and politically contentious areas of public policy, where benefits to the majority can necessitate withdrawing advantages from (vocal) minorities. It nevertheless leaves a sizeable residual, to which Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens was no doubt alluding in his much-reported remarks. Many in the media took him literally though, and were disappointed that the Commission did not in fact have a ‘list’ at the ready.