From The Age:
The Productivity Commission is a complete waste of money at a time when we are assured that the government must make savings: whatever question is asked of it, the answer is known in advance. Any report the commission produces, the IPA will produce the same answers for free.
But the point is well made – what is the Productivity Commission’s value add? At the expense of annoying Judith and Steve and the several people I know who are current or former employees of that organisation I think the answer, on average, is zero. Anyone who has read Adam Smith or Hayek or almost any sensible economist already knows the answers the PC should ever come to on any question. Generally it does. So what is the story?
One of my colleagues (a political scientist) recently explained to me that Australian decision makers are loathe to take responsibility for their decisions. Even for obvious decisions. So decisions are shunted off to commissions and audits and the like where disinterested professionals make recommendations that are then implemented. Sometimes. This provides political cover for the decision maker. So the real function of the PC is to provide legitimacy to politicians. Another colleague took that argument further – saying that without the PC many good policy decisions could/would never be taken.