The Treasurer has appointed an economist to revamp the Productivity Commission. 

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has handpicked a seasoned economist, Chris Barrett, to head the Productivity Commission for the next five years. 

The appointment comes as a result of a rigorous selection process, ensuring that Barrett's expertise and extensive experience will guide the commission into a new era of productivity.

With an extensive career, Barrett has held prominent roles both at home and abroad. He served as Wayne Swan's chief of staff from 2007 to 2010, a position later assumed by Chalmers himself. 

Barrett's global influence continued as Australia's ambassador to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris from 2011 to 2014. 

Later, he contributed to climate advocacy as the executive director of the European Climate Foundation from 2015 to 2019.

Chalmers expressed his confidence in Barrett's capability to solidify the commission's status as a world-class economic institution. 

He said there is a need to refocus the commission's efforts, shifting away from the notion of making people work longer for less. Instead, the focus will be on investing in human capital, energy transformation, and staying ahead of evolving technology.

The Productivity Commission has been vocal about Australia's stagnant productivity record in recent years, and Barrett's appointment signals a determination to address these issues. 

The commission has previously criticised subsidies for renewable energy, preferring a single, explicit carbon price policy. 

Barrett's vision allegedly aligns with the commission's goal of avoiding ‘old-fashioned protectionism’ while prioritising global economic integration and low-trade barriers.

Barrett's predecessor, Michael Brennan, and industry leaders have applauded the appointment. 

Brennan hailed Barrett as an outstanding choice, praising his intellect, strategic insight, and extensive experience. Innes Willox, Chair of the AiGroup, also expressed enthusiasm for Barrett's appointment and looks forward to continued collaboration with the Productivity Commission.

Regarding the fiscal outlook, Treasurer Chalmers stated that despite an expected cash surplus of around $20 billion, the government's primary focus remains on providing cost-of-living relief and fulfilling commitments from previous budgets. 

No plans to spend from last year's budget surplus were mentioned.