COMMENT: Now we tend to not like the Productivity Commission much, mainly it’s our unforgiving nature for when it said we should deregulate zoning as a way of making housing more affordable. It certainly would make houses more affordable, because no-one would want to live there.
But that’s another story entirely to what hit us in the final minutes before publication on Thursday.
Maybe there’s been a lightning strike to the bits of the PC’s brain that regulates political temperament. The way an accidental knock on the head can make a person forever more angry, or ridiculously happy.
What the PC is doing is holding an inquiry into … wait for it… drum roll… the “right to repair”! Because the lack of it is creating… clarion call… “the transfer of consumer goods into waste”.
Yep folks, the PC is going all sustainability on us and calling for submissions on why we should be able to repair things instead of throwing them out.
It could be the end of planned obsolesce, which we all know is what some people think is their God-given entitlement.
It could spell the end of the throw-away society.
The PC notes: “The Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA) prohibits anti-competitive behaviour such as exclusive dealing (section 47); however, many right to repair issues are the result of conduct that is not being captured by the prohibition.
“In many cases…consumers or third parties are prevented from being able to repair the products due to a lack of access to necessary tools, parts or diagnostic software.
For these reasons, “existing provisions amount to some limited rights or protections in relation to repair facilities in Australia, but do not amount to a full ‘right to repair’.
“As such, premature product obsolescence and a lack of competition in repair markets remain.”
And note this in particular: “The expense of repair and product design accelerate the transfer of consumer goods into waste.”
And who’s requested this inquiry?
None other than the Treasurer himself, the “Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, Treasurer”.
Maybe the Treasurer can see the writing on the wall, turning a deeper shade of green every day.
Speaking of writing on the wall, the messages couldn’t get any louder this week than UK PM Boris Johnson urging the PM Scott Morrison to take “bold action” on climate change and “emphasise the importance of setting ambitious targets to cut emissions and reach net zero.”
That message came zinging down the mental telegraph along with the other slightly even louder messages coming from China, Japan, South Korea and the UK all now with net zero targets, as all states and territories in Oz now have.
And well, if Joe Biden wins in the US election next week, our poor old PM might find he needs to be working overtime at the spinning wheel to have anyone swallow his go slow, go low climate targets.
In another case of panicky governments on Thursday, two senior pollies pretty well tried to destabilise our precious banking system by threatening the ANZ with removal of government guarantees for deposits.
The big bad thing the bank had done was to say its 100 largest carbon-polluting customers needed to reduce emissions.
The Nats said this was “virtue signalling”. But is it?
In the face of how the most powerful part of the world is going and the likely trade barriers that could ensure on the back of nations’ carbon profiles, it’s more like clear economic sense than silly words such as “virtue signalling” suggest.
The Nat’s David Littleproud led the charge linking ANZ’s stance to somehow an attack on farmers. He earned a stinging rebuke from former Reserve Bank of Australia governor Bernie Fraser who said this could well lead to a run on the banks.
“The Nationals will review every policy lever at the federal government’s disposal – including the availability of deposit guarantees – to protect Australian farmers from these sorts of arbitrary boardroom ideological agendas,” Mr Littleproud said on Thursday.
“That is a ludicrous way of linking those two things together,” Mr Fraser said.
“Even saying that publicly cuts across the whole comfort for depositors to leave their funds in the bank.
“The deposit guarantee was put in to stop runs during the financial crisis and stop depositors taking all their money out and putting it under their bed and sending the banks broke as happened in so many other countries,” The AFR reported.