Chalmers curbs Productivity Commission independence

Labor is looking to nobble the PC by making it acknowledge its industry policy and keep the government more in the loop about its activities.

(Image: Gorkie/Private Media)
(Image: Gorkie/Private Media)

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has issued the first statement of expectations to the independent Productivity Commission, explicitly asking it to “take account” of the government’s goal to be “a renewable energy superpower” — a clear contradiction of the PC’s traditional role of sceptically scrutinising government intervention in the economy.

The statement — a tool designed to direct independent agencies about how they should pursue their legislated functions — is the first time a government has sought to push the PC to back a specific industry policy agenda. It raises the very real possibility that the PC will not be able to undertake its role of calling out programs as inefficient or economically counterproductive if it is introduced as part of the “renewable energy superpower” agenda.

“The government expects the PC to take account of the government’s productivity agenda,” the statement says, identifying a more dynamic, competitive and resilient economy, a skilled and adaptable workforce, harnessing data and digital technologies, delivering quality care more efficiently and “getting to net zero and becoming a renewable energy superpower” as its agenda.

Read more about Jim Chalmers’ new “expectations” for the Productivity Commission.

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