Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has announced that the Coalition government has appointed Catherine de Fontenay, Lisa Gropp and Malcolm Roberts as commissioners of the Productivity Commission.
Dr de Fontenay is an associate professor of economics at the University of Melbourne with research interests in “business behaviour, macroeconomics and international trade”.
Ms Gropp was recently chief economist of the Business Council of Australia and has previously held senior positions at the Productivity Commission. She has experience in applied economic research and developing public policy around national economic capability and productivity.
Meanwhile, Dr Roberts has experience developing industry and energy policy and has therefore been appointed as an Industry Specialist Commissioner.
He has held senior executive roles in retail, housing and energy peak bodies and was most recently chief executive officer of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association.
The new commissioners have been appointed for a five-year term, with Ms Gropp and Dr Roberts commencing their terms on 1 May 2019, while Dr Fontenay will begin her term on 1 July.
As well as the new appointments, the Treasurer announced that Paul Lindwall has been reappointed as a commissioner for a second five-year term.
Having served as a commissioner since 2015 and leading inquiries on infrastructure, telecommunications and agriculture, Mr Lindwall has been reappointed to the Productivity Commission.
Mr Lindwall has previously served as senior official for the Australian Treasury and represented Australia at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Mr Frydenberg commented that the four appointees will “enhance the Productivity Commission’s capacity to provide advice on economic, social and environmental matters affecting the welfare of all Australians”.
The government also thanked Mr Robert Fitzgerald, who was coming to the end of his term, for his “significant contribution” to the commission since 2004.
The Productivity Commission operates at arm’s length from other government agencies. It reports formally through the Treasurer to the Australian Parliament.
It is tasked with improving the productivity and economic performance of the economy, reducing unnecessary regulation, facilitating adjustment to structural change and “encouraging the development of efficient and internationally competitive Australian industries,” among other responsibilities.
Last year, following the ASIC and Sedgwick reviews (and ahead of the banking royal commission), it looked closely at the broker remuneration model as part of its final report into Competition in the Australian Financial System.
While the Productivity Commission did not recommend that consumers pay mortgage brokers directly through fees for service – as was mooted in the 640-page draft report – it did put forward a recommendation for trail commissions to be removed, despite widespread industry criticism of the idea.
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Ezekiel is a journalist on the mortgages, property investment and wellness titles at Momentum Media.
Before joining the team in 2019, he was a freelance journalist for Vice Australia, Pulse Radio and the Sydney-based travel publication Global Hobo, among others.
Ezekiel studies a double Bachelor of Communications and International Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney.