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Gary Banks

I spoke in parliament today about outgoing Productivity Commission chairman Gary Banks.

Gary Banks, 26 November 2012

Canberra economist Gary Banks AO is stepping down after 14 years of service to the Productivity Commission. He was the Productivity Commission’s inaugural chairman and he was the executive commissioner of its predecessor, the Industry Commission.

The Productivity Commission and its predecessor bodies have done important work for major Labor reforms, whether that was tariff reform in the 1970s or competition reform in the 1990s. During Mr Banks’ term as chairman, the Productivity Commission has brought down important work on aged care policy, the National Disability Insurance Scheme and on carbon pricing. The Productivity Commission has also done critically important work on school reform and on reporting Indigenous disadvantage.

Of course, the Productivity Commission has clashed with governments. Under the Howard government the commission pointed to widespread claims of inefficiency and waste in health care. They criticised the lack of a uniform national approach in forestry, fisheries and waste disposal. They spoke about the inefficiency of stamp duty and the need for a carbon price. And it has to be said that the Productivity Commission has on occasion said things with which this government has disagreed. That is in the tradition of frank and fearless advice, a tradition that Gary Banks upholds well. I wish him the best in his new work heading up the Australia and New Zealand School of Government.

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