During 2018‑19, the Commission provided evidence‑based policy and informed the public debate on a range of topics of significance to the Australian community.
During the year we completed four inquiries commissioned by the Australian Government on the diverse topics of: compensation and rehabilitation for veterans; the economic regulation of airports; the effectiveness of the implementation of the Murray‑Darling Basin Plan; and the efficiency and competitiveness of the superannuation system.
We also completed our first review of sector‑wide agreements between the Australian and State and Territory Governments, which examined the National Disability Agreement. And we conducted a joint project with our colleagues at the New Zealand Productivity Commission on growing the digital economy in Australia and New Zealand.
The Commission is increasingly active in Indigenous policy. 2018‑19 saw the appointment of a new Commissioner to oversee the Commission’s work to develop a whole‑of‑government evaluation strategy for policies and programs affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This is in addition to our ongoing reporting on outcomes for Indigenous people, and many inquiries and studies that consider issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.
During the year, we released research that took stock of the evidence on inequality. This research sought to inform the discussion of inequality and its social impacts by bringing together the latest and most complete evidence measuring the level of and trends in inequality, poverty and disadvantage in Australia. We also released research that examined the demand driven university system using administrative, population and longitudinal data.
We continued to fulfil our legislated role to promote public understanding of matters relating to industry, industry development and productivity, including through our annual Trade and Assistance Review and Productivity Bulletin publications. The latter highlighted some of the challenges for productivity growth facing Australia.
The twenty‑fourth edition of the Report on Government Services (RoGS) was published in 2018‑19, providing comparative performance information on government service delivery areas. A staged transition to interactive online reporting of this material commenced for the 2019 RoGS.
New inquiries and studies referred to us by the Australian Government during the year and currently underway include those on mental health, national transport regulatory reform, expenditure on children in the Northern Territory, and remote area tax concessions and payments.
In 2018‑19, the Commission farewelled former Chair Peter Harris and Deputy Chair Karen Chester. Both Peter and Karen made enormous contributions to the life of the Commission and to the broader policy debate in Australia. On behalf of all the Commissioners, I thank them for the energy, intellect and commitment they brought to this institution.
I would also like to thank the Commission’s staff and my fellow Commissioners for their hard work over the course of the year, and for making me feel welcome from September 2018.