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IC Calls for Broader Reform



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Productivity Commission

INDUSTRY COMMISSION MEDIA RELEASE Thursday 31 October 1996

IC Calls for Broader Reform

The Industry Commission’s 1995-96 Annual Report released today sets out a broad and challenging program of microeconomic reform for Australian governments to improve Australia’s living standards. The report also explores the compatibility of reform efforts to improve national productivity with equity concerns.

The Commission’s report points to three priority areas which need urgent attention by governments:

• broad reform of Australia’s labour markets - where the Commonwealth Government’s industrial relations package is a necessary and important step; • full implementation of competition policy across Australia - because governments must take the lead in getting our economic infrastructure and competitive environment right;

and

• improved efficiency and effectiveness in Australia’s social infrastructure - by extending the compass of microeconomic reform to education, training, health and welfare services.

Bill Scales, the Commission’s Chairman, acknowledged that some in the community are concerned about the equity effects of economic reform. The Commission in its Annual Report argues that equity concerns need to take into account indirect and second round effects of reform.

Mr Scales said, “One way of helping to address equity concerns is to ensure that reform is broad-ranging so that those affected by one reform have the potential to gain from other reforms. But an effective and efficient social security and welfare system is still needed to meet equity concerns directly, and to provide a safety net for the vulnerable in the community.”

“Reforms can encourage economic growth, improve the prospects of the unemployed and generate the wealth to assist the disadvantaged.”

Mr Scales noted that this is likely to be the Industry Commission's last annual report, pending the enactment of the Productivity Commission. The report also covers: a review of Australia’s trade and assistance arrangements; a scorecard of Commonwealth and States microeconomic reform; and preparation for the formation of the Productivity Commission.

Contact: Carleen Schmalz/ Melissa Morrow, Communications (03) 9653 2183

Copies of the report are available from Commonwealth Government Bookshops.

Forming the Productivity Commission: The Commonwealth Government, as part of its broader microeconomic reform agenda, is merging the Bureau of Industry Economics, the Economic Planning Advisory Commission and the Industry Commission to form the Productivity Commission. With the agencies co-located in the Treasurer’s portfolio, amalgamation has proceeded on an administrative basis. Legislation to enact the Productivity Commission

is expected to be introduced soon. .