Speech given in December 1993 to the Second Annual Micro-Economic Reform Conference, sponsored by the Business Council of Australia, published in the Business Council Bulletin, January/February 1994, pp. 32-37.
Micro-economic reform: The term represents a multitude of things: A slogan, a panacea, a smokescreen, a call to action, a fog, a rubric. In Paul Keating’s famous phrase of a few years ago: “I guarantee if you walk into any petshop in Australia, the resident galah will be talking about micro-economic policy”.1
The issues to which this term refers appears never-ending. That is part of the problem in discussing policy directions or the “effects” of micro-economic reform. The “micro” requires examination. General talk comes cheap and is generally unfocused.
Hence this paper will highlight recent experiences in a few specific industries. In doing so, the discussion will only skip the surface. There is a lot to talk about in covering the field. Peter Forsythe’s recent book Microeconomic Reform in Australia2 includes chapters on the labour market; competition policy; manufacturing; land, air and rail transport; taxation policy; tourism; telecommunications; the mining and minerals processing sectors; agriculture and so forth. Nothing appears left out.
A dreary aspect of the debate is not only the vagueness of many of the galah-flapping assertions about microeconomic reform. It is also the predictable style of many of the contributions. One such is the self-congratulatory rhetoric of governments of all persuasions and their bureaucracies. The point here is that all too often a good story is ruined by the hagiography. Another style is the cranky invective that belittles recent changes as if nothing has been achieved. It is often useful to hear such critiques – it is a discipline to judge against actual changes. But sometimes the polemic obscures the sensible and telling points. Another sloppy intervention in the debate is the claim that New Zealand faces up to the tough decisions much more firmly than we have.
Admittedly, this is an argument less widely in circulation since the 1993 New Zealand elections or since the publication of Roger Douglas’ book Unfinished Business.3 Those general assertions, however, always should have been tested against reality. In some areas, including shipping, New Zealand probably has achieved a great deal more than Australia – but from where? Sir Doug Myers, the head of Lion Nathan, and himself a critic of the pace and content of labour market, waterfront and other reform in Australia, observed last October:
Many New Zealanders think we have gone further in reforming our economy than Australia, but that judgment is overstated. New Zealand started from a much more distorted and debt-ridden position. Our tariffs are still higher than yours and coming down more slowly and our public debt is much higher. Your welfare system is more tightly structured and less expensive than ours (particularly in the case of pensions), and you have done more free up agricultural marketing. New Zealand’s outlook is for only modest rates of growth of 2.5 to 3% a year. Australia’s outlook is at least as good – or as mediocre. And if we do not keep moving forward we shall rapidly start to drift backwards.4
So it will be useful to discuss some of the areas where progress is occurring and transverse what more should be tackled.
Before I go any further I should tell a story.
It is apocryphal. It is about the grasshopper, the wise owl and the wallaby. It is winter time and the grasshopper is freezing cold. It spies an owl perched on high. It hops up to the bird and asks: “It is freezing here. How can I get warm?” And the owl responds: “You see that wallaby over there? It has got a warm, furry coat. What you need is some warm fur to stop you catching the cold.” Wow! The grasshopper was excited to learn this information and began to hop away. When suddenly another thought occurred to him. And he quickly hopped back to ask: “Tell me owl, how do I obtain such furry coat?” And the owl shrugged and looked down upon his prey and said: “I have got no idea. I am a policy person. The operational details I leave to someone else!”
Alas, that story reminds me of another feature of the microeconomic reform debate – the tendency to ex cathedra pronouncements and the sometimes cavalier disregard for human consequences. That is, the kind of thing that labour unions can hardly escape from. As Fred Argy recently observed:
It is not good enough to argue that in long term “every one benefits” from economic reform and improved productivity, so it should be left to the market to sort out winners and losers. The risks of relying on such a “trickle down” approach are borne out by the experience of the Thatcher years in the United Kingdom 1979-91, when the top 10% of households improved their standard by living 62% but the poorest 10% suffered an absolute decline in real incomes of 14%…
This is hardly conducive to social cohesion. In any case, a vision which breaches the values and sense of fair play of many Australians will generate resistance and obstruction, would be very difficult to implement, and may not be suitable in the long term.5
The observation highlights the point that the management of change is critical to the achievement of sensible and lasting reform in almost any area. The sectoral examples highlighted in this paper illustrate some of what might be done.
The implementation of micro-economic reforms has caused many union officials long and serious headaches. Obviously they are not the only ones with the migraines or the clearer heads after the implementation of particular changes. Yet it is fair to assert that the trade union movement has generally supported micro-economic reforms, once employment security and social equity issues have been adequately addressed. Indeed, “…there is recognition within the union movement that slowness in micro-economic reform threatens the credibility and achievement of unions. Hence it will be increasingly in the labour movement’s interests to hasten reform.”6
There have been some occasions, however, where management and governments have failed to push through reforms, lacked foresight in handling industrial relations issues and poorly communicated the reasons underlying particular proposals.
This paper overviews some of the difficulties which confront labour representatives in this area. I then highlight a few positive examples of microeconomic reform’s successful implementation.
The paper looks briefly at reform on the waterfront and the NSW SRA [State Rail Authority]. In order to highlight what I believe is a developing phase of micro-economic reform, the paper then notes proposed reforms in electricity generation and distribution, and interstate gas trade. This section of the paper identifies some of the obstacles to micro-economic reform which will require careful negotiation. My purpose in alluding to these particular areas of reform is not to detail the complex process of micro-economic reform, but to highlight the role played by unions and to identify some of the challenges ahead.
Likewise there is no one model for change. Although consultation and reasoned discussion might be preferred to more aggressive strategies, sometimes the latter are justified depending on the circumstances. Speed and toughness, however, should not be equated with courage and genius. The exercise of good judgement is the key to what ought to be attempted and how.
Amongst the challenges are the jaundiced eyes viewing recent experience. Union members and officials sometimes express the view that throughout the 1980s the only ones who suffered from the reforms pursued by the various State and federal governments were the employees. Joined to this argument is the resentment that while workers were agreeing to real wage restraint, in sometimes clichéd contrast to the high fliers of the ’80s, this has not stopped a growing unemployment trend.
For many, micro-economic reform equates to job shedding. For some, award restructuring and enterprise bargaining equate to the winding back of long-treasured victories in past struggles.
Yet despite these commonly-expressed arguments, key union leaders have argued against those views. In some respects, the complexity of the economic and social issues involved in the reform process renders leaders of the union movement exposed to criticism from the rank and file. Yet the capacity of workers to understand complex issues should never be underestimated, if they are consulted – their views noted and properly considered – constructive and acceptable outcomes can and are being negotiated. But there is a note of pessimism sounded in many of the discussions I am engaged in within the movement.
Deregulation of the financial sector certainly led to improved services and a more efficient monetary system and net job growth – yet thousands of jobs were directly lost as the recession crunched growth and employment in key sectors, coinciding with poorly-performing major banks cutting costs and tempting to be more efficient (sometimes at the expense of a sensible lending policy to small business).
These kinds of arguments were addressed in the 1991-92 Industry Commission Annual Report and this year’s Budget Papers. The Industry Commission warned that to pause now in the reform effort would undermine economic recovery:
It is true that some workers have lost their jobs because of structural change – the ongoing process of adaption of the economy to changing economic circumstances… But structural change has also created jobs – for example, there are now more people in Australia producing goods and services for overseas markets than there were ten years ago.7
The Treasurer observed that:
Australia is responding positively to the challenge of an increasingly competitive world environment. Rather than retreat behind barriers, Australia has faced up to the task by improving the economic fundamentals and is now reaping some of the benefits in our improved export performance. If domestic growth is to continue to exceed growth in other major industrial countries – and hence deliver more rapid and sustainable growth in employment and living standards – we must continue to improve our competitiveness and productivity.8
He went on to claim:
Microeconomic reform in service industries – such as transport, the waterfront, communications and public utilisation – is leading to lower infrastructure costs and increasing the competitiveness of Australian firms in general. Government Trading Enterprises, for example, have lowered prices in real terms, reduced debt and substantially improved labour productivity (in some cases by over 50%) since the mid-1980s.9
Such points, however, should not obscure the real difficulties associated with certain changes. There is no doubt, to quote John Freebairn, that: “Although microeconomic reform in aggregate is a positive sum game, it is difficult to design reforms in which there are no losers.”10 The fear, often completely justified, particularly where employees live in regional industrial locations with low levels of training and few transferable skills, that workers will be dumped on the scrap heap in the broad national economic interest, is difficult to overcome. Difficult, also, is ensuring that this does not happen. It must be understood that this is one of the essential social functions of trade unions, to mitigate the unsocial consequences of changes.
If employees are treated as commodities, they will rebel – oppose – obstruct. Micro-economic reform has usually been most successfully implemented where there has been detailed consultation and involvement of workers and their union representatives. Indeed, it is my view that this is true of industrial relations generally. The old-style confrontationalist approach to industrial relations is a relic of the past.
Yet there is no doubt that micro-economic reform has significant implications for industrial relations. It is in this field that the union movement has played a considerable part.
In response to competitive pressures, the unions set about the task of union rationalisation – a factor important in facilitating enterprise bargaining and workplace flexibility. The lost opportunities from the first couple of depreciations of the Australian dollar, following the float, made it obvious that if resources, and particularly labour, were to be redeployed into the tradeable goods and services sector of the economy, thus turning a depreciating Australian dollar into an opportunity for economic growth, labour market flexibility was imperative.
In the area of improving workplace productivity in the late 1980s, it was frequently the union movement that led the way. In the preface to an EPAC [Economic Planning Advisory Council] paper on ‘Improving Productivity’ the authors list sources of productivity improvement.11 They are:
“Improving the skills of workers and managers” – pursued through multi-skilling and career pathing and the ongoing implementation of the reforms into vocational education and skills development.
“Eliminating unnecessary and undesirable work practices” – the process of award restructuring and particularly the implementation of the structural efficiency principle have brought about the removal of most demarcations, the broad-banding of classifications and considerably improved workplace efficiency. The ongoing embrace of enterprise bargaining will only continue this process.
“Improving technology” – largely a function of management and engineering staff, although workers have been keen to upgrade skills and have been proud in many cases to achieve internationally competitive standards of production.
“Reducing machine down-time” – again, accepted by the union movement, particularly in capital intensive industries, albeit with caution to ensure adequate recompense for the obvious difficulties associated with, for example, 12-hour shifts and 24-hour rotating shifts..
“Reducing industrial disputes” – simply refer you to some statistics. In the 12 months ending, in August 1981, the number of working days lost per 1,000 employees was 797. In 1983, this figure fell below 300 and in August 1993, the ABS reported the number of working days lost per thousand employees at 186.12 This figure was actually inflated by disputation in Victoria, largely caused by political factors in that State.
“Making more efficient use of infrastructure”.
“Eliminating unnecessary government interference and regulation”.
“Strengthening the forces of competition”. And,
“Developing community attitudes that are conducive to greater productivity – a ‘productivity culture’.”
For the last four items listed, the union movement has mostly played a helpful role in forums such as the Economic Planning Advisory Council, although it has not been as central in the case of the former five areas nominated.
But do not just take my word for it. To illustrate something about the role of the union movement in NSW, let me quote the former Premier, Nick Greiner, who, in answering a question during ‘Question Time’ in the NSW Parliament in April 1991, stated:
It is fair to say that the reason this government has been so much more successful than any of the other State governments does have a little to do with the understanding …by the Labor Council of NSW that what this government is doing is right and necessary. Generally, the Labor Council has been quite responsible in the way it has co-operated with the microeconomic reforms that this government has instituted.13
And further, Mr. Baird, the NSW Minister for Transport, noted in May 1990 that: “The MSB [Maritime Services Board] and the Labor Council of New South Wales have agreed upon consultative processes for the reforms that are under way.”14
There are many such examples of constructive union participation in micro-economic reform across the country, in all sectors of employment: At ICI in Botany and Gladstone; at Amecon in Williamstown, Melbourne; at BHP at Port Kembla and in Newcastle; at Woodside Petroleum on the North-West Shelf; at BTR Nylex, and so on. In all these cases, there have been a few instances of industrial disputation but, on the whole, the experience has been positive.15
The details of reform on the waterfront are clouded by claims and counter-claims. It is certainly true that this reform has, to an extent, been “bought” by the Commonwealth government with $255 million in funds provided to industry on a dollar-for-dollar basis for redundancy/retirement packages and assistance in training and workplace restructuring.16
Yet the Waterfront Industry Reform Authority [WIRA] estimates recurrent annual savings from the 57% reduction in the stevedoring workforce and the halving of average ship turnaround times to bring about an annual saving of over $300 million.17
The waterfront has not always been an industry where workers and employers have been prepared to confront change in many cases to the detriment of the nation’s economy.
While there has not been universal agreement on the extent of change necessary, there is no doubt that enormous change has been realised. Where such change is evident, there will be examples of conflict – just recently Minister Collins felt it necessary to intervene in a dispute in September when the Australian Stevedoring Company and the Maritime Union of Australia were in conflict in relation to a matter still before the Industrial Commission over staffing levels.
The unions do not see their role with rose-coloured glasses. With the setting up of 108 enterprise agreements, there will no doubt continue to be occasional problems – yet the focus is squarely on management’s responsibility to manage in an unprotected, competitive environment.
The full benefit of these reforms, however, has not been fully passed on to the “end user”. The Hilmer Report notes that: “…pro-competitive reforms advanced to date have largely been progressed on a sector by sector basis without the benefit of broader policy framework or process. Reforms undertaken in this are typically more difficult to achieve…”18
The WIRA Annual Report asserts that the ultimate users of waterfront services have not realised their responsibility to gain a “fair share” from the reform benefits in the freight market: “Rather than a problem of waterfront reform, it took the success of the reforms to unearth the lack of awareness and activity on the part of some waterfront users.”19
In NSW, the Maritime Services Board (MSB) has undergone a similar process of micro-economic reform. Staff numbers have been reduced from over 3,000 in 1989 to 1,081 today, with further reductions to take place with the final workforce being 688 in June 1994.
An enterprise agreement has been signed which has involved the ACTU, the Labor Council of NSW, the South Coast Trades and Labor Council and the Newcastle Trades Hall. Revenue raised per employee has more than doubled since 1989 and time lost due to industrial disputes is at record low levels.20
In particular, the performance of the Newcastle coal loaders following the privatisation of the MSB’s loader, its merger with the private Port Waratah coal loader, and the associated labour reforms in the port has been outstanding. The reforms were negotiated with virtually no industrial disruption and, according to the Bureau of Industry Economics in its report on International Performance Indicators, Waterfront: “The port of Newcastle has the second highest productivity of all respondent coal terminals and has increased since 1989 from 50,000 tonnes to 140,000 tonnes per person per year”.21
The MSB is one case in point of a significant problem noted in the Hilmer Report. That is, the taking of monopoly profits by firms or statutory corporations with legislated or natural monopolies.
Despite the fact that NSW has an “independent and expert” pricing watchdog in the form of the NSW government Pricing Tribunal – a model recommended in the Hilmer Report22 to other states to overcome the problem of monopoly profit-taking among government statutory authorities and corporations – a casual review of the MSB’s Annual Report shows that revenues have been maintained at much higher levels than expenditures for a number of years. This has produced a steady increase in the dividend paid to the NSW government, from $15 million in 1989 to $64.5 million in 1993. 23
Productivity improvements must be passed on to the end users in the form of price reductions if the positive economic and employment benefits of microeconomic reform are to be realised. This has occurred with port charges in the NSW MSB. The workers have done their part; the government has not passed on the benefits through lower charges to its customers, but has used the proceeds to plug its budget hole.
State Rail – NSW
Over the past four years, staff numbers have decreased by 33% in the NSW SRA, and are planned to further reduce by 26% by June 1997. Reductions to date have been achieved with minimal industrial disputation and have resulted in productivity improvements in the four years ending 1992 of 39% for CityRail and 56% for Freight Rail.24 In a paper presented to the Chartered Institute of Transport in Australia, Vince Graham, National Director of the National Rail Corporation, bluntly stated: “railway unions understand the inevitable consequences of rail’s reducing competitiveness.”25
Achieving greater workplace productivity is not the problem it once was. Unions and industrial disputes are not the problem anymore. In fact, in many respects, they have facilitated and embraced the changes which have occurred – albeit with considerable heartache at times.
In the 1993 Budget, the Commonwealth established a National Transport Planning Taskforce to examine utilisation and access issues for land transport infrastructure. It is my hope that this taskforce will assist National Rail’s reform efforts.
There is an ongoing debate as to the future direction of access issues. The Hilmer Report argues that there should be third party access to rail infrastructure while Campbell Anderson suggested in a recent BCA paper that a separate national rail infrastructure company should be established as a fore-runner to open access for private and public operators.
While constitutionally the Commonwealth has the power to pass laws on State-owned utilities such as rail networks – because of the interstate trade and commerce power under the Constitution – the tradition of Commonwealth governments respecting the property rights of States is not likely to be broken.
Instead, one of the keys to ongoing micro-economic reform generally is that
state governments must seriously commit themselves to the process of reform through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meetings, or in bodies such as the National Transport Planning Taskforce – but it must happen.26
The electricity generation industry is another area where the union movement has played a central part. A union sponsored publication in 1991, Powering the Future,27 critically justified the process of productivity improvements and employment rationalisation in that industry.
In an industry which accounts for between 5% and 30% of input costs to industry, cheaper electricity prices are certain to lift our competitiveness. With market-sensitive behaviour and goodwill from management, that is, the passing one of improved work practices into lower prices, this will improve our export performance and create new jobs and investment. In studies conducted by the Industry Commission, the Bureau of Industry Economics, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), and the Business Council of Australia,28 the view that reform in the area of electricity generation and distribution will massively boost the economy and lead to job growth is universally argued for.
The formation of a National Grid will allow greater inter-connection between States and allow for improved load levelling with consequent saving in peak demand times for consumers.
The barriers here are similar to those touched on in my discussion of reform in National Rail. State governments own or regulate most of the key stakeholders and, ultimately, are responsible for implementing reform.
Recent commercialization has resulted in significant labour force reductions and productivity improvements. Electricity prices have declined by some 7% in real terms over the past decade.
As noted above in relation to the NSW MSB, however, State Treasuries have been capturing a significant part of efficiency gains to date through increasing dividend payments from power utilities. A National Grid will facilitate a broader flow-through of savings to consumers and industry.
The COAG meeting in June set a deadline for the implementation of a competitive electricity market where, for the first time, electricity distributors and other large customers will be able to deal directly with power generators.
Clearly reform of such an enormous industry will have a significant impact on State revenue – and this is a serious concern. The Commonwealth must take a responsible position, as the collector of the vast majority of taxation revenue, in negotiating a package with the States to at least in part overcome this short-run shortfall in revenue.
Companies should be able to choose which generator they purchase power from and not be forced – as they are now – to purchase from the State in which they are located. Private sector power generators including industrial generators should be able to sell surplus power to the National Grid. The administrative barriers to this process of co-generation are, at present, enormous, and cause significant inefficiencies. It is these types of barriers which must be overcome if this industry is to become genuinely efficient.
[In a recent article] Michael Gill correctly identified in the Financial Review29 one of the major obstacles to successful reform in this area – political expediency and parochialism! Recently, Premiers Fahey and Kennett met and signed an agreement to effectively freeze out the Commonwealth government’s role in the establishment of the grid as a part-owner of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Authority. Michael Gill summarised: “It is believed that the meeting on Friday was driven mostly by political considerations, since the practical reforms required to open the border for power trade remain a source of fundamental disagreement”.30
The implementation of Hilmer’s proposed “National Competition Council” and the institution of the associated administrative body – the Australian Competition Commission31 – along with the broadening of the Trades Practices Act to repeal provisions which allow States or Territories to pass laws which otherwise would contravene the TPA, are positive recommendations and I support them. In addition, I suggest that the Foreign Investment Review Board should be merged with the Commission – establishing a one-stop competition and regulatory body. If, however, State governments choose to be obstructionist, the process has little chance of success.
Inter-State Gas Trade
The interstate gas trade is another area where, until recently, despite enormous productivity improvements at workplaces, parochial state government regulation has conspired to prevent an optimal outcome. I am speaking in particular about the Sydney-Moomba ethane gas pipeline which will bring ethane from Moomba in South Australia to Port Botany at ICI Sydney.
Until recently, the South Australian government refused to release the gas as it had its own stupid bright idea of establishing a petrochemical plant in that State (a pipedream of the Rex Connor days, long beyond reality).
The ethane feed stock will replace imported feedstock worth over $150 million and will improve competitiveness of the ICI plant as well as creating over 1,000 jobs in the construction phase. An agreement has recently been concluded which will allow this pipeline to be established, involving over $300 million in investment.
This case highlights, however, the importance of a national perspective on micro-economic reform. Ad hoc reform tends to be at the expense of workers in the form of job cuts and productivity improvements. The long-term benefits can only be realised if governments, management and workers all set about achieving a common vision of internationally competitive industry and service delivery.
Clearly the union movement under a Labor government, particularly a Keating government, will enjoy a big say in the dimensions and detail of reforms affecting their membership and the workforce. It is a dynamic relationship with each side shaping the views of the other. Is this a block to the path of appropriate reform?
It would be difficult to pretend that all is sweetness and light and to argue organised labour is rarely in the wrong.
The massive changes wrought in Australia over the last decade and the Australian labour movement’s responsiveness to change are in marked contrast to, say, New Zealand’s union movement.
Differences may abound about the libertarian free market approach and that of the labour movement. In the 1990s, however, Labor – both in government and in the union movement – has mostly given up the rhetoric about mugging reality. Labor’s pragmatic economic rationalist credentials are joined to a vision that the role of government includes:
- Assistance with social adjustment (labour market programs);
- educational and training opportunities (a revamped TAFE, tertiary education and vocational training systems);
- the provision of information to the marketplace (such as benchmarking projects);
- the creation of competitive market forces disciplining economic actors including Government Trading Enterprises (hence the opportunity of the Hilmer Report); and,
- the design of welfare policies attuned to those most in need (targeted benefits and other social wage issues).
The balance between a union leader’s responsibility to members and the broader responsibility of the position is graphically manifest in the implementation of micro-economic reform. Unions and workers have, by and large, accepted the imperative of workplace flexibility. They have had to. Their jobs depend on it, especially when the impact of changes at the micro level is explained and understood. The next step – together with a new federal Industrial Relations Act – is to rationalise the complication caused by seven industrial relations systems.
Union leaders are democratically elected. Most face a ballot of members every three or four years. Union leaders and workers generally have played their part in bringing about micro-economic reform – sometimes putting their own scalps on the line in the broad national economic interest. This point is both easy to overestimate and easy to underestimate.
The McKinsey Report on Emerging Exporters for the Australian Manufacturing Council highlighted that micro-economic reform is the biggest area of concern in a survey of such exporters. In answer to the question “what would be the 3 most important things the government could do to assist you to increase your exports?”, 22% nominated micro-economic reform as a first preference and 27% of the remainder raised this as a top three preference – the biggest response for any category (which included subsidies, tax breaks, procurement policy and so forth.)32 As, however, micro-economic reform covers almost everything, this response level should not be surprising. The Report also advocated:
The government has recognised that the East Asian region is the relevant benchmark for the competitiveness of the business environment in Australia and for the adequacy of our progress in many areas of micro-economic reform. This recognition needs to be translated into systematic, transparent and ongoing comparisons between Australia and the relevant East Asian countries in relation to their potential as places to do business from an investor’s perspective…33
Amongst the strongest supporters of the McKinsey Report’s thinking and recommendations has been the union movement.
The ongoing process of enterprise bargaining will bring about positive outcomes for industry generally, as well as for the employees as their skills are upgraded and recognised and pay is increased to reflect greater productivity.
The next step in the process of reform is, surely, to adopt a broad national approach, the systematic removal of bureaucratic barriers and weakening of narrow parochial interests. The Hilmer reforms will no doubt assist the reform process. “Political will”, however, could be the major obstacle in the near future. It remains to be seen how the States will respond to the Hilmer challenge, and whether co-operative Federal/States arrangements will further develop. In this respect the Hilmer Report provides the best bet around for a revival of constructive “new federalism”.
Hegel once mysteriously said: “the Owl of Minerva [wisdom] flies at dusk.” In the debate about microeconomic reform in Australia it is just as wise to watch out for the petshop galahs.
Note on Publication
I am grateful to Tom Forrest, Labor Council Executive Assistant, for much of the research underpinning this paper and to Mark Duffy for some useful comments. The usual caveats apply.
1. P. Keating, Answer to journalists following AFR Lunch Address, 21 June 1989.
2. P. Forsythe, editor, Microeconomic Reform in Australia, Sydney, Allen and Unwin and the Centre for Economic Policy Research, 1992.
3. R. Douglas, …Unfinished Business, Auckland, Random House, 1993.
4. D. Myers, ‘The Future For Trans-Tasman Commercial Relations’, address to the Australian New Zealand Business Council Annual Conference, 15 October 1993, mimeo, p. 4.
5. F. Argy, ‘The Road Back to Full Employment’, Victor Argy Memorial Lecture, Sydney: November 1993, mimeo, pp. 22-23.
6. M. Easson, ‘Sunbeans, Cucumbers and Industry Policy’, in Costa, M. and Easson, M., editors, Australian Industry, What Policy?, Sydney: Pluto Press/Lloyd Ross Forum, 1991, p. 139.
7. Annual Report 1991-1992 Industry Commission, Canberra: AGPS, 1992, p. 1.
8. Budget Statements 1993-94, Budget Papers No 1, Canberra: AGPS, 1993, p. 2.36.
9. Ibid., p. 2.37.
10. J. Freebairn, ‘The Implications for Microeconomic and Workplace Reform’, Discussion Paper 298, Canberra: ANU Centre for Economic Policy Research, June 1993, p. 9.
11. Office of EPAC, ‘Improving Productivity’, Discussion Paper 89/12, Canberra: AGPS, 1989, p.1.
12. See ABS Catalogue 6321.0, Canberra: AGPS, August 1993, and ABS Catalogue 6101.0 – Chapter 8, Canberra: AGPS, 1991.
13. N. Greiner, Hansard, NSW Legislative Assembly, 18 April 1991, p. 2503.
14. B. Baird, Hansard, NSW Legislative Assembly, 3 May 1990, p. 2370.
15. For details on each of these micro-economic reform processes and outcomes, see EPAC Council Paper No. 45, Canberra: AGPS, 1991.
16. WIRA Annual Report, October 1992, pp. 12-13.
17. Ibid., p.9.
18. National Competition Policy, Canberra: AGPS, August, 1993, p. 13.
19. WIRA Annual Report, op. cit., p. 9.
20. MSB of NSW 1993 Annual Report, Sydney, 1993, p. 14.
21. Bureau of Industry Economics, International Performance Indicators, Waterfront, Research Report 47, Canberra: AGPS, 1993, p. 50.
22. National Competition Policy, op. cit., p. 291.
23. Ibid., p. 10.
24. Steering Committee on National Performance Monitoring of Government Trading Enterprises, Government Trading Enterprises Performance Indicators 1987-88 to 1991-92, July 1992, p. 221.
25. V. Graham, ‘Deregulation Access to Publicly Owned Rail Networks’, speech presented to the Chartered Institute of Transport –National Conference, Perth: 12-16 September 1993.
26. See the National Competition Policy report, op. cit., pp. 264-267.
27. M. Johnson and S. Rix, editors, Powering the Future, Sydney: Pluto Press and the Public Sector Research Center, UNSW, 1991 –sponsored by trade unions in the power generations and the distribution industry.
28. See ABARE Research Report 93.14, Electricity Transmission and Bulk Pricing under Deregulation, Canberra, October 1993. Industry Commission Report No. 11, Energy Generation and Distribution, Canberra: AGPS, May, 1991. Business Council Bulletin, ‘Submission to National Grid Management Council’, September 1993, pp. 22-25.
29. M. Gill, AFR, Monday, 29 November 1993, p. 3.
31. Loc. cit., pp. 266-267.
32. Emerging Exporters, Australia’s High-Value-Added Manufacturing Exporters, McKinsey and Company and the Australian Manufacturing Council (AMC), Melbourne, 1993, p. 48.
33. Ibid., p. 49.
The article as it originally appeared:
I thought it important to convey to business audiences that the Australian union movement was doing its part in modernising the Australian economy. And that, whatever the faults, limitations, and challenges associated with the movement, we were mostly economically literate and alert to the issues in the debates about economic reform.
George Gear, the then Assistant Treasurer, saw this article (he told me later.) It was one reason he asked that I become one of the inaugural commissioners of the National Competition Council, which was ultimately, was an appointment unanimously approved by the Commonwealth and all the state governments.