Establishment and staffing of the productivity commission

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Establishment and staffing of the productivity commission

NO. 043



The full composition of the reformed Productivity Commission is announced by the Treasurer, Mr Peter Costello today, in a reaffirmation of the importance placed by the Government on the Commission’s work as principal advisory body on microeconomic reform.

The Productivity Commission formally came into being on 16 April 1998 following Royal Assent to the Productivity Commission Act 1998.

The Government has made seven appointments to the Commission, and expects to announce the appointment of the Chair of the Commission soon. The Acting Chair is Mr Gary Banks, who was the Executive Commissioner of the Industry Commission, and had been a full-time Commissioner in the Industry Commission since 1990. The other full-time Commissioners are Professor Richard Snape, Mr John Cosgrove and Ms Helen Owens, all of whom were previously members of the Industry Commission. The remaining full-time Comissioner is Dr Neil Byron, and part-time Commissioners are Professor Judith Sloan and  Mr Mike Woods. An outline of their qualifications and experience is attached.

The Government is confident that these appointments will provide the Commission with the range of backgrounds and experience necessary to address the challenge of lifting Australia’s productivity performance. In particular, the appointees have extensive skills and experience acquired from working with Australian industry in matters relating to the social effects of economic adjustment and social service delivery and in the principles of ecologically sustainable development and environmental conservation.

The Commission is headquartered in Melbourne, with another Office in Canberra.

The Commission has been formed through the merger of the Industry Commission, the Economic Planning Advisory Commission and the Bureau of Industry Economics. The merged entities have operated as the Productivity Commission on an administrative basis since late 1996.

The Commission will act as a catalyst for continuing structural reform in the Australian economy, with particular emphasis on productivity improvements in both the public and private sectors. The Government strongly endorses the work of the Commission and looks forward to the full use of its considerable expertise to assist the Government in meeting its reform objectives.



30 April 1998

Contact Officer:

Alistair Davey

Treasurer’s Office, Canberra

02 6277 7340





Acting Chair

Gary Banks

  • Economics qualifications from Monash University and Australian National University (ANU); and experience as Senior Economist, GATT Secretariat, Geneva; Director (Economic), Office of National Assessments, Canberra; Visiting Fellow, Trade Policy Centre, London; and Projects Manager, Centre for International Economics, Canberra.
  • Full-time Commissioner, Industry Commission (IC) since 1990 and Acting Chair (IC) since February 1998.


Full-time Commissioners

Professor Richard Snape

  • Commerce and economics qualifications from Melbourne University, and London School of Economics; Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia; and Visiting Professor, the Stockholm School of Economics, The Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva, and Institute of International Economic Studies, University of Stockholm.
  • Professor of Economics, Monash University since 1971; full-time Associate Commissioner, IC since 1995 and Acting full-time Commissioner, IC since February 1998.


John Cosgrove

  • Economics qualifications from University of Sydney and wide public service experience in economic policy in the Commonwealth Treasury, both in Australia and overseas, and also as Executive Director, World Bank.
  • Full-time Commissioner, IC since 1995.


Helen Owens

  • Economics qualifications from Monash University; and experience as Senior Health Economist, Health Commission of Victoria; Policy Adviser, Premier’s Office, Victoria; and Associate Professor, National Centre for Health Program Evaluation, Monash University, Melbourne.
  • Full-time Commissioner, IC since 1993.


Dr Neil Byron

  • Forestry, and economics and forestry qualifications from ANU and University of British Columbia, Vancouver, respectively; and experience in teaching, advising and research for the United Nations and research in Bangladesh and Indonesia; Director of Graduate Studies in Environmental Management and Development, ANU; and part-time Associate Commissioner for the IC’s 1993 Inquiry into Adding Value to Australia’s Forest Products.
  • Currently Assistant Director General, Centre for International Forestry Research, Indonesia.


Part-time Commissioners


Professor Judith Sloan

  • Arts and science qualifications from Melbourne and London Universities; and experience as Director of National Institute of Labour Studies, Santos Ltd, Mayne Nickless Ltd, and SGIO Insurance Ltd; and Chair of SGIO Holdings.
  • Currently Professor of Labour Studies, Flinders University; and appointed to Australian Statistics Advisory Council; Strategic Research Development Council of the National Health and Medical Research Council, and the South Australian Business Roundtable.


Mike Woods

  • Arts and education qualifications from ANU and Canberra College of Advanced Education; and wide public service experience in economic policy in various Commonwealth departments, as well as in the Northern Territory and ACT Treasuries, including as Secretary to the ACT Treasury.
  • Currently Principal, Woods Financial Design; Associate, Australia Asia Management Centre, ANU; and Member of the Canberra Business Council.