Last Sunday, five prominent Queensland industry peak bodies—AgForce, the Property Council, QRC, QTIC and Timber Queensland—issued a joint election platform Driving Queensland’s Economic Growth. It was extraordinary that such a diverse collection of peak bodies were motivated enough and could find sufficient common ground to issue this joint platform. Partly, it was motivated by the frustration that senior staff in industry bodies have felt with the way the State Government has consulted industry to date. Industry groups have been disappointed they were inadequately consulted on a range of policy developments in recent times including, among others:
- Reintroduction of third party objection rights to resources projects;
- Chain of Responsibility Bill;
- The calling in or cancellation of projects such as the Gold Coast integrated resort and casino;
- Imposition of a 3% transfer duty surcharge for foreign buyers of residential property in Queensland; and
- Creation of an additional public holiday.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that we would have automatically had better policy on each and every one of these issues if the industry groups’ views were accommodated, but policy development processes where industry groups are inadequately consulted will no doubt lead to poorer outcomes overall.
What I really like about the joint election platform from the five peak bodies is the strong commitment to evidence-based policy. The platform notes:
Investors are looking for predictable and enduring policies anchored in evidence based research. Industry is seeking a regulatory system which is globally attractive and internationally competitive and look to Government to:
- Ensure our unicameral Parliament has an effective and transparent review mechanism.
- Guarantee evidence-based planning decisions.
- Commit to a genuine regulatory impact process for all major legislative changes.
Industry groups want rigorous cost-benefit analysis of policy proposals presented in Regulatory Impact Statements for consultation and scrutiny. It is fantastic that the peak bodies are pushing for evidence-based policy. As an economist who spent nearly a decade in the State and Federal public services, I have a deep commitment to evidence-based policy development, and I have seen that effective and genuine consultation with industry is a vital part of that process.
Finally, I should stress that instances of inadequate consultation and rushed legislation and regulation have occurred for many years in Queensland, and not just during the most recent term of government (see e.g. this SMH report from the time of the Newman Government). But the extraordinary joint election platform from the five peak bodies, partly motivated by their frustrations over a lack of genuine consultation, is an important development in the 2017 Queensland election.