Recently, Scott Balson, a high profile supporter of the One Nation Party, and major Labor government figure, David Hamill, both attacked National Competition Policy in this journal. These attacks variously allege that NCP is an instrument of conspirators and bureaucrats gone mad.
Yet the NCP is a central plank in the economic reforms which have seen this country keep its head above water in times when it might have drowned.
Attacks of this kind are born of fear: either the fear of the attacker or the fears of others on which the attacker seeks to play. Fear is almost always a function of ignorance, and here there is no exception to that rule.
The economic reforms of the past fifteen years have been difficult, scary and highly disruptive, but they had to happen.
There are plenty of people to tell you what’s wrong with NCP. I’d like to look at where we gain.
Just about everyone understands that when the government spends money, it has to get that money from somewhere. It does that (usually) by taxing us more. So the principle is pretty simple – if you want the government to spend more, you’ve got to pay more. We often forget this – especially when we want something ourselves – but most of us understand the basic truth of that statement.
Economics is not so very different. Just as someone must pay for every government expense, so someone must pay for every economic inefficiency. Every time we maintain a tariff or engage in some other form of protection, prices are inflated and we pay more for things which should cost us less.
That is where NCP comes in.
NCP seeks to make our economy more competitive and hence more efficient.
It seeks to ensure that government enterprises don’t have any unfair advantages over private sector businesses so that competition in the marketplace is fair.
It seeks to ensure that where people use resources, it is they, not the rest of the country, that pay.
It seeks to ensure that companies which own essential infrastructure allow access to that infrastructure so that other companies can enter markets and make those markets more competitive.
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