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Former auditor-general steps up as first NSW productivity commissioner

Bankstown Airport chairman and former New South Wales auditor-general Peter Achterstraat has been appointed as the state’s first productivity commissioner, charged with attracting domestic migrants and business investment from other parts of Australia.

He has “a mandate to bust red tape and make NSW the easiest place to do business” in the words of NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, who made the announcement this morning.

The new agency has four main priorities: simplifying business; lowering the cost of living; housing affordability; and making it easier to move to NSW than any other state or territory.

Peter Achterstraat: four main priorities

Following a long public service career, Achterstraat has been keeping busy as an adjunct professor at the University of Sydney’s Graduate School of Government, president of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, NSW Division, and administrator of the National Health Funding Pool, as well as chairing the busy airport’s board.

He was a deputy tax commissioner at the Australian Taxation Office for over ten years in the late 1980s and the 1990s, before taking on the position of chief commissioner in the NSW Office of State Revenue in 1999. After seven years in that role, Achterstraat became the NSW auditor-general and held that post for another seven years.

He was president of the NSW branch of the Institute of Public Administration Australia from 2009 to 2014.

“This appointment is fantastic news for NSW and will help drive our agenda of making it quicker and easier for citizens to deal with government,” Perrottet said in a statement.

“I am very glad Peter is taking on this role and he will bring enormous experience and energy to the commission. NSW is already powering the national economy but ongoing productivity reforms are absolutely critical to securing the state’s long-term economic success.”

One of the new commissioner’s first jobs will be implementing the government’s response to the recent red tape review by former premier Nick Greiner.

“The Treasurer has set down a challenging agenda for the commission to tackle and I look forward to getting started,” Achterstraat said. “I especially want to hear from the community and business on what barriers and problems they want fixed.”

NSW Treasury secretary Michael Pratt said the productivity commissioner was “a great addition” to the portfolio area.

“His intellect and drive will be pivotal in our search for fresh ways of boosting productivity across NSW,” Pratt said. “We look forward to working to ensure NSW remains the number one performing state in Australia.”

Author Bio

Stephen Easton

Stephen Easton is a journalist at The Mandarin based in Canberra. He's previously reported for Canberra CityNews and worked on industry titles for The Intermedia Group.