Peter Karmel Lecture 2013- Public inquiries and public policy: some reflections


About the speaker

Professor Gary Banks AO, FASSA, commenced as Dean of ANZSOG in January this year, after nearly 15 years heading the Productivity Commission. Trained in economics at Monash University and the ANU, his early career was spent at the GATT (now WTO) in Geneva and at the Trade Policy Research Centre in London. On returning to Australia in the mid 1980s, he worked at the Industries Assistance Commission and then as a consultant with the Centre for International Economics in Canberra. He was appointed a Commissioner with the Industry Commission in 1990 and as Chairman of the newly established Productivity Commission in 1998. During this time, he headed some 25 public inquiries, covering a wide range of nationally significant policy topics. He also participated in the ‘West Review’ of Higher Education in 1997 and chaired the Prime Minister’s Regulation Taskforce in 2006. His writings have been published in various policy journals, and collections of his speeches were issued recently by the Productivity Commission.

Public policy can be hard, both technically (what to do?) and politically (how to get it done?). Australian governments have often made use of public inquiries or reviews to assist them in these respects. The results, however, have been mixed. Based on theory and evidence, including insights gained at first hand, Professor Gary Banks addressed two key questions: Why might public inquiries contribute to better policy outcomes? And what determines their ‘success’? With much contention surrounding recent policy initiatives, and links being drawn to current electoral fortunes, the inaugural Peter Karmel Lecture in Public Policy proved to be highly topical, and was well received.

Link: ACADEMY PAPERS 2/2013 

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