Labour on Productivity Commission

March 23rd, 2010 at 1:19 pm by David Farrar

Grant Robertson blogs:

Its nice to be able to say that I support  a government policy, albeit with some caveats.  I think there is considerable value in a Productivity Commission.  One of the main reasons is that it will ensure there is some critical long-term thinking about government policy.

Lianne Dalziel has also said supportive things. I’m pleased to see supportive of this initiative, for two reasons.

The first is simply because it is a good idea.

The second is because the sucess of the Australian is partly because it does have bipartisan support. and I have long stressed that any NZ counterpart needs to also have such support, to be truly effective.

As David Cunliffe has noted the principal concern about the commission announced here is the breadth of their mandate.  From the early indications it looks as though the mandate will be somewhat narrower than the Australian one.  I think that is a mistake.  Using a broader measure of productivity is essential for the commission to have a positive influence. For example, the Australian commission has recently done a report on the role of the not for profit sector in terms of productivity.  I am not sure that would fit in the terms of reference for NZ.  It should, if it is to give us some clear long term benefits to our wealth and well-being.

The terms of reference may change over time. I’m not sure it is a bad thing to start more focused, and then maybe expand the brief once it has some solid work done.

We need a commission with an independent and broad focus.  This can not be just about regulation and short term issues. I believe if we get the mandate right (and it has support across the political spectrum) it could play a vial role in our development as a country.

Independence is key. While it is not a constitutionally important role that needs the formal agreement of Parliament, I hope both National and Labour would agree on serious consultation with each other (depending on who is in Government) on appointments to the Commission.

Again, it is good to see support from Labour for a NZ Productivity Commission.

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13 Responses to “Labour on Productivity Commission”

  1. KiwiGreg (3,279 comments) says:

    Just another example of the government wanting to be seen to be doing something. Seriously, would you look to the government to tell you how to lift productivity?

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  2. queenstfarmer (782 comments) says:

    KiwiGreg: exactly. The irony is that the quickest, easiest and most economical way to lift productivity is always for the politicians to get the hell out of the way – less governement, less commissions, and less bureaucracy.

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  3. RRM (10,104 comments) says:

    Hmmm – pretty sure IPENZ suggested the Govt should have a Productivity Commission, and asked all of the Parties to comment on what they thought of the idea… before the election in 2008.

    (Pretty sure I reported this in General Debate here too, to general disdain/disinterest.)

    IIRC, in 2008 neither of the major parties’ candidates were very interested in the idea either, though UF and Greens might have seen some merit in it.

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  4. RRM (10,104 comments) says:

    Queen St Farmer –

    Perhaps one of the commission’s functions might be finding ways to streamline/remove Govt hindrance?

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  5. bwakile (435 comments) says:

    Perhaps one of the commission’s functions might be finding ways to streamline/remove Govt hindrance?

    yep, I can really see that happening.

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  6. KiwiGreg (3,279 comments) says:

    “Perhaps one of the commission’s functions might be finding ways to streamline/remove Govt hindrance?”

    Shouldn’t that be responsible Ministers jobs?

    A basic way of improving government would be to say – no new department, entity, program or initiative without something of equal cost being deleted. So you can have your “Productivity Commission” (as oxymoronic a title as I have heard) if you disestablish the Families Commission maybe.

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  7. KiwiGreg (3,279 comments) says:

    And as a further thought – whatever the commission thought if the government of the day didnt believe in streamlining or removing government hindrance it would be a waste of time.

    Open functioning markets are very good at improving productivity because the high cost (unproductive) players get toasted. You dont need a “commission”.

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  8. queenstfarmer (782 comments) says:

    Queen St Farmer –
    Perhaps one of the commission’s functions might be finding ways to streamline/remove Govt hindrance?

    And it wouldn’t be ironic that we need a Productivity Commission to tell us what we already know?

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  9. backster (2,196 comments) says:

    Kiwi Greg..has it right..No new Commissions unless two useless ones are abolished. …………I dis-agree that any new Commission needs cross party support. It needs Commissioners aligned to Government Policy who resign their engagement when the Government is tossed out of office, and it shouldn’t be a sinecure for past members of Parliament looking for more gravy. I bet it will be though.

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  10. Paul Walker (49 comments) says:

    For what its worth my views on this are here. In short I don’t see any benefits from such a commission.

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  11. bruceh (102 comments) says:

    Actually, the only reason for the Productivity Commission coming into being was that is was an ACT election policy and as such negotiated into the ACT’s Supply and Confidence Agreement.

    ACT’s instinctive views on Govt Commissions are as cynical as any expressed here however NZ’s productivity performance is so alarmingly poor and of general little specific policy interest to the main parties. The Australian model has been held up as helping to persuade public and bi-partisan support for economic and social policies that improve productivity.

    As such this is one new Commission worth having – what are the two that should be abolished in its place?

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  12. Grendel (1,015 comments) says:

    thats easy bruce, families commission and womens affairs, both pointless.

    there are heaps others but they are a good start.

    next would be childrens commissioner, maori affairs.

    i think the harder question is what commissions are worth keeping?

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  13. krazykiwi (formerly getstaffed) (8,040 comments) says:

    Grendel – I’ve previously commented here on some candidates for consolidation or eradication. Sucessive governments, of all shades, have expanded this lamentable list

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