Productivity Commission Chairman Peter Harris says in a report that Australia hasn’t been productive in recent years .
“Australia’s productivity performance has fallen well behind that of most other developed economies for more than a decade. Reasons for this, include differences in the rate of investment growth. But the picture painted in the statistics calls for strong policy attention, particularly in the current era where the recent record terms of trade will no longer support continued income growth,” Harris said in a statement.
The report focused on three important areas: the effect of price distortions on productivity; Australia’s 2012-13 productivity performance and productivity in manufacturing.
Agriculture, mining, manufacturing, utilities and information technology showed the most unproductive trends, particularly businesses of petroleum, chemicals, small wine-makers, artisan bakers and regulated pricing of electricity and water.
The agriculture industry productivity fell at 5.8 percent, minging at -4.9 percent, manufacturing at -0.5 percent, electricity, gas water and waste at -1.8 percent and and information, media and telecommunications at 7.2 percent.
However, he said a good sounding policy could effect change.
Harris pointed out the current policies of water companies, for example, were forced to invest in more costly sources like desalination and recycling instead of deciding to charge more when there is lack of supply. The chairman said this reduced productivity for the water industry.
While economic experts debated that Australia has no productivity problem because of labour productivity, the growth in the industries overall were feeble.
“It’s a global bother, but we are the ones with persistent negatives and that’s a bother to me. Whatever the case, it means we are not doing well enough to justify continuing high growth in incomes.”
With the report, the commission sought to call the government to act on the problem through strengthening the labour market and improve skills and education.