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.
Mr Harris is currently Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. He has previously served with distinction as Secretary of the Victorian Government agencies responsible for Sustainability and the Environment, Primary Industries and Public Transport.
To make the most of the opportunities that lie ahead for Australia in the Asian Century, the Gillard Government is committed to ongoing reform and investment across the five pillars of productivity—skills and education, innovation, infrastructure, tax reform and regulatory reform.
As Chair of the Productivity Commission, Mr Harris will play a key role as the Government continues to build on our world-beating economic resilience and strengthen our community.
The Productivity Commission is the Government's principal advisory body on microeconomic policy and regulation covering all sectors of the economy. It provides advice that takes a broad view, encompassing the interests of the community and economy as a whole.
Mr Harris' experience across a wide range of issues within public and private sector organisations – particularly his experience in the reforms of Australia's ports, aviation, rail and telecommunication sectors – equips him well to lead the Productivity Commission.
Mr Harris' career in the public service started in 1976 as a graduate economist working across a number of Commonwealth departments.
He was closely involved in the Hawke Government road transport and telecommunications reforms; the establishment of the Hilmer Inquiry into National Competition Policy; the development of rail reforms creating the Australian Rail Track Corporation, including train path pricing; and the access and pricing policies for Commonwealth airport privatisation.
More recently, he has had responsibility for the structural separation of Telstra and the creation of the universal service obligation entity Telecommunications Universal Service Management Agency (TUSMA), as part of the National Broadband Network negotiations with Telstra.
The Government would again like to thank the outgoing Chair, Mr Gary Banks AO, for his leadership of the Productivity Commission and his contribution to public policy over 15 years.
The Government will recommend Mr Harris be appointed for a five-year period to commence early in 2013. Acting arrangements will be put in place in the interim period.