We are dull people at the Commission

Someone really needs to take the newish Chairman of the Productivity Commission, Peter Harris, aside and give him some frank advice.

In one of his first speeches, he told everyone that he was like the Bob the Builder …. pleeease.  I would be hiding your involvement in MYKI, the Victorian desal plant and the NBN – all unmitigated disasters, Pete.

And then we have his speech notes (here’s a hint: there are some very able speech writers at the PC; it is not acceptable to put up speech notes on the PC website; Harris is destroying a fine tradition set by Gary Banks of posting important and polished speeches as a form of record) from a recent outing at the ANU:

We are dull people at the Commission. We like process. In that respect, I may be dullest of all – I’ve seen process and structure that works for major reform projects; and wonder if I will ever see it repeated again.

Hard not to disagree with one part … I may be the dullest of all.  But ‘I’ve seen process and structure that works for major reform projects’ – really?  really?

The Victorian desal plant was built at triple the efficient cost, was the mother of all union rorts and Victoria doesn’t even need it, although Victorians will pay for it for years and years because of the egregious take-or-pay contracts negotiated with the operator by senior Victorian public servants.

And here’s a bit more of a flavour of these ‘insightful’ (jibberish, more like it) notes from the Chairman’speech:

But until the Hilmer Review, we had no policy options of a traditional kind for dealing with the accreted problems of industries which ‑ through government regulation of entry or through direct government ownership ‑ controlled access to markets covering a larger part of the economy than that which was internationally exposed.

Not only was there a sense of inequity to that, but also a sense that greater burdens for the economy existed behind those walls than behind the walls of tariffs and quotas.

A sense, exposable by incident and example, but not able to be calculated in the precise way sought by some at the time.

Pressed to demonstrate the expected benefits in advance of the inquiry, we could only say it was hard to be sure.

Thus page 9.

But in this, as in the case of the internationally‑traded sector, the Industries Assistance Commission was also active.

The government needs to tread very carefully in sending too many inquiries and research projects to the PC – it is not the organisation it once was.

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26 Responses to We are dull people at the Commission

  1. Rabz

    So the dullard was appointed by labor. Gee, there’s a surprise.

  2. Badjack

    Who appointed this self professed dullest of all PC people. Abbott, Rudd 2, Gillard or Rudd 1 ?

  3. Baldrick

    Joint media release:

    The Government is pleased to announce it will recommend to the Governor-General the appointment of Mr Peter Harris as the new Chair of the Productivity Commission.

    THE HON WAYNE SWAN MP – DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER – TREASURER
    THE HON DAVID BRADBURY MP – ASSISTANT TREASURER

    Enough said!

  4. Badjack

    Thx Baldrick. Time for Abbott to make changes

  5. Ed

    it is not the organisation it once was.

    I look forward to ACCC style activity along the lines of “words mean what we want them to mean.”
    Let’s balance productivity against all the other policy considerations because government, controlled as it is by the IPA, obviously 0an’t do that. And if a company is doing something good for the public, let’s call it a “public good” and then get upset that the company is allowed to do it without state interference.

  6. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    And again. The Long March through the Institutions.

  7. Ant

    Why is it that all of these “dull people” get to deal in billions of dollars of which none is theirs?

  8. Leo G

    It’s Scales’ eyesight and not Peter Harris that must do the lifting if we are to recognise the full nightmare of the NBN.
    The decision not to use packet-switching in the ‘last mile’ is the real disaster. That failure ensured that a major part of the network is not scalable and is effectively obsolete, even at the start of the rollout.

  9. Ant

    And, as some may be aware, I can’t let the Vic desal boondoggle go.

    The fact that the Vic Coalition govt hardly ever mentions it anymore shows one reason why they’re tanking in the polls against a complete bunch of morons in the opposition.

    It’s just unbelievable. The joint needs an acid bath.

    $6 billion dollar build. Almost $30 billion payback over 3 decades. Any Victorian in their 30s with a newborn should look in their infant’s eyes and think “when you get to my age you’ll still be paying it back.” The plant keeps churning away regardless, burning power by the megawatt. Around $2 million per day doled out to the operator, which is ultimately owned by big union super funds. Built because Victoria’s long gone drought was “the new normal” all due to global warming. AND NOT A SINGLE USEFUL LITRE YET PRODUCED.

    Finally, the biggest outrage of all: nobody has been jailed or even reprimanded yet.

  10. H B Bear

    The Victoriastan de-sal costs extended even beyond the eye watering direct costs. Thanks to the union friendly IR environment, wage rates and allowances from the feather bedded site spread through other EBAs like the cancer that is Victoriastan Labor.

    It is a tribute to the inherent Left leaning Victorians and the piss weak Liberals that they look like losing government after one term that no-one expected them to win anyway. Great job.

  11. Ant

    Bear, that’s true.

    And those labour costs will (and have) trickle down to the domestic construction market.

    So much for Labor’s “concern” for housing affordability.

  12. Rabz

    as some may be aware, I can’t let the Vic desal boondoggle go

    I don’t blame you. The fact that no one is languishing in prison over this is what I find absolutely incomprehensible.

  13. Megan

    The fact that no one is languishing in prison over this is what I find absolutely incomprehensible.

    +1000

  14. Fred Lenin

    We need to make ALL polies and public “servants” fiscally responsabile fi their actions ,these massive spending projects were done without the permission of the Tavpxpayers ,every one involved should lose their homes ,savings and super. And the assets of their families ,if they cannot prove they earned them ,( look at the wife and family of the alp criminal williamson? The Bastard ROBS the workers and his wife gets a huge super payout! Come on Confiscate the super,the house and every cent the williamsons posess ,and let the Theiving Mongrels get Real Jobs ,cleaning Shi–y beds and clothes in a hospital for minimum wages !

  15. johanna

    Harris is a drone, and an insult to his fine predecessors. Gary Banks must be sick to his stomach.

    [before the Hilmer review] ” … we had no policy options …” – WTF? Policy options can only be generated by reviews? They were always there, but he just wasn’t capable of conceiving or recognising them.

    Tony Abbott should send him on perpetual gardening leave, and put someone else in the job. It would be cheaper than the damage Harris will do if left in place.

  16. blogstrop

    The PC is now too important to be headed by a member of Wodehouse’s Drones Club. It was certainly Labor sabotage.

  17. .

    This guy has no credibility. He has been rewarded for failure.

  18. johanna

    Indeed, blogstrop. Imagine what effect it would have on morale if Bertie’s competing aunts were calling the shots, depending on who got into his ear last.

    That’s what it will be like if they don’t get rid of this guy.

  19. Fred Lenin

    Surely this mob of cossetted “public servants” need someone to clean the toilets ,a really good job for this loser ,promote him instantly! He will find his niche!

  20. JohnA

    [Prime Minister Hacker:] (to Sir Frank Gordon Treasury Sec) You could do Humphrey’s job!

    Rabz #1216683, posted on March 8, 2014 at 11:32 am

    as some may be aware, I can’t let the Vic desal boondoggle go

    I don’t blame you. The fact that no one is languishing in prison over this is what I find absolutely incomprehensible.

    The only other possibility would be to make Bolte a liar and bring back capital punishment – for fiscal treason.

  21. Warwick

    Thanks, Dr Sloan. I have been waiting for your assessment of the chairman.
    Considering his background and the circumstances of his appointment, your comments were not unexpected.
    They were, however, disappointing considering a similar decline in the Treasury’s firepower.
    What is to become of the PC’s staff?
    So, we are left with the Reserve Bank …

  22. Judith Sloan

    Oh and by the way, I am sure many people call me names, but as an ex-PCer, never DULl.

  23. blogstrop

    Is that the person formerly known as young Warwick …

  24. Bons

    I am not a great quoter of Kennett, but he has a point in relation to this Government.
    When you know you are going to win, you must have everything in place and hit the ground running. Otherwise, you hand the initiative to the opposition who simply whittle away your plans while you fumble around getting things in place.
    His point is correct. Why are they still developing terms of reference for these myriad inquiries – why were they not ready to go in September.
    The problem with inquiries is that they produce reports, and reports leave you vulnerable – unless you employ the Labor tactic of never releasing them.
    The most obvious stupidity is taking IR reform to the next election. “Hey enemy, we are going to attack you”. “It will occur on 14 Nov 1916.” “In the meantime, please do not do anything to disrupt our plans”.
    We have elected a bunch of victims of CRM and workplace harmony seminars.

  25. .

    Someone really needs to take the newish Chairman of the Productivity Commission, Peter Harris, aside and give him some frank advice.

    My advice:

    You are full of shit. You are a phoney. You are a failure. You are being rewarded for failure. Hand back your qualifications and retire without a pension, Harris. Pay back the good people your salary earnt on the NBN and desal plant, you reprehensible swine.

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