24 July 2023

New Chair of the Productivity Commission

Today Cabinet has agreed to recommend the Governor‑General appoint Chris Barrett as the new Chair of the Productivity Commission, for a term of five years. 

To build a stronger economy, we need to build stronger economic institutions – and that means renewing the PC.

Mr Barrett brings to the table the right skills and attributes to take the Productivity Commission into the future.

Mr Barrett has almost three decades of experience in public policy, the majority as a senior public servant and in leading international organisations, including as Australia’s Ambassador to the OECD, Executive Director of the European Climate Foundation, and as chief of staff to former Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan.

Currently, he is Deputy Secretary of the Economic Division in the Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance.  

Mr Barrett has a Master of Public Policy from Princeton University where he graduated first in his class, a Master of Arts from the University of Melbourne, and a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Melbourne.

His appointment comes after a rigorous process involving interviews with two departmental secretaries and the APS Commissioner.

The Productivity Commission plays a key role in identifying the policy reforms that can drive economic growth, so a strong, effective and well‑led PC will be vital to Australia’s progress into the future.

We see the Productivity Commission as one of Australia’s core economic institutions and we want to find ways to strengthen it further.

The Government is committed to finding ways to broaden and deepen the Commission’s work, exploring new avenues to fulfil its core mission of raising Australia’s productivity performance in a rapidly evolving global economy.

Mr Barrett’s experience – from key senior roles in important international institutions to practical experience delivering reforms in both state and federal governments – will further cement the Commission’s role as a world class economic institution.

I would like to thank outgoing Chair Michael Brennan for the significant contribution he has made to the Commission’s work and to the national economic debate over the past five years, and in his senior public service and ministerial advisory roles before that.

Under Mr Brennan’s leadership, the Commission has featured prominently in the national conversation about Australia’s productivity, delivering more than 20 reports to the government over this time, including the recently released five‑yearly Productivity Inquiry.

Subject to the Governor‑General’s approval, Mr Barrett will commence his role in September.

We will now work with him on our PC reform agenda, which picks up the ideas and contributions gleaned from months of consultation on the best ways to renew, refocus and renovate this really important economic institution.