One of the easiest jobs I ever had in the Commonwealth Treasury was working in the Industry Policy Unit, partly because the Productivity Commission had already compiled the hit list of wasteful corporate welfare programs in its annual Trade and Assistance Review (TAR). This year’s TAR, released last week, contains a very useful section on State Government industry assistance (e.g. to tourism and the wine and film industries), which should bring delight to bean counters in Treasury departments across Australia.
For instance, the TAR tells us that the Queensland Government provided $850 million of industry support in 2008-09, which is equivalent to around $190 per Queenslander. Clearly there must be some big savings possible here. If we could get industry assistance down to the per capita level of NSW (see chart below), we could save $400 million per annum.