Home' Future Building: The Australian Infrastructure Review : Volume 3 Number 2 Contents 72 futurebuilding Volume 3 Number 2
Public Sector Reform Panel
They are wary of being speculative about
possibilities in public debates because they nd that
they are held accountable -- in a very precise way --
for something they were trying to build support for in
the rst place. It's the nature of the political debate
and, frankly, business is not always as constructive
nor comprehending of the realities of democracy in
this eld as it might be, and nor are the media for
BL: Graeme, looking at market-wide reforms,
you've had a lot of experience at the National
Competition Council, and later at the ACCC; how is
it that those sorts of reforms might be implemented,
and do you think they ever will be implemented?
GS: Yes they will, but it will require leadership.
In Victoria, when Jeff Kennett became Premier,
he introduced reforms that no previous leader would
have even contemplated, in terms of competition
policy, and in terms of dealings with local government,
the amalgamation of councils and the development
of infrastructure, although the balance sheet of the
state was not looking good at the time.
I'm still bemused that some states refuse to
contemplate the sale of electricity assets. It just
bewilders me that leadership can't be taken. That was
the Kennett process.
Paul Keating took an extraordinary leadership role
in undertaking the National Competition Policy. He
got the Hilmer Report, got the Industry Commission --
as it was at that time -- to then report on the bene ts
to Australia, and the productivity bene ts were
measured in thousands of dollars -- I think $5500 per
individual in terms of productivity growth.
Ultimately, he said, 'Look, here are the sorts of
things that work.'
It went from big infrastructure issues -- electricity,
water, gas, things of that nature -- through to some of
the smallest things.
It was the leadership shown by Keating and by
Kennett -- of saying 'this needs to be done', and
showing the political leadership to explain it.
BL: A lot of discussion has been about the triple-A
rating and the degree of headroom on the budget
from different jurisdictions as the major constraint
in getting a deeper, wider program of infrastructure
projects funded and delivered. Do you think there's
scope for a National Competition Policy-style
approach to public sector service delivery?
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