The MRC announces the Shepherd Review - Press Release

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Click here to download the official Press Release



The Menzies Research Centre (MRC) has commissioned an independent review of the nation’s economic challenges in an effort to address Australia’s current cycle of high debt, low growth and slowed investment.

A Review Panel, led by Tony Shepherd AO will develop a list of national challenges aimed at encouraging enterprise, initiative, innovation and a competitive economy.

The review will be charged with finding better ways to measure the effectiveness of government programmes and examine the overlap between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories. 

“We need to be clear about what we expect from government and how we measure success before we can decide if we’re getting value for money,” said Shepherd. “Our task is to work out what government should be doing, and then make sure it is doing it efficiently.”

The review is a response to unsustainable spending commitments made by successive governments which has driven growth in public sector debt over the past decade. The imperative is to reduce debt and deficit and encourage private sector growth.

Along with fiscal reform, the review will consider reforms to taxation, the division of responsibility between governments and better measures of  government performance. There will be a strong emphasis on the need for increased productivity, international competitiveness, enterprise and innovation.

The MRC’s Director of Policy and Research, Andrew Bragg, said Australia was approaching $350 billion in debt in financial year 2016/17 with little hope of recovery unless serious reforms were adopted.

“With the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) due tomorrow, Australians must know we are living beyond our means. But, until the nation has a stronger sense of the agreed challenges, it will be harder to achieve any meaningful change.”

The review will publish a statement of national challenges for discussion in February 2017. They will provide the framework for a series of options papers to be published in the middle of the year. Final recommendations will be published in the second half of the year.

About the Menzies Research Centre

Founded in 1994, the Centre is a non-profit think tank based that promotes freedom, enterprise and empowerment. The Centre’s objectives are to provide research and analysis, develop policy recommendations for government and encourage industry leaders and the business community to contribute to public and policy debate. 

For more information:

Katie Howe, Jacaranda Communications

Phone: 0423 984 251




The process announced in December 2016 provides multiple opportunities for community debate on Australia’s economic challenges. The process commences in February, provides options papers to address the challenges and culminates in recommendations for change.







The outline of each options paper will be flagged under each national challenge upon release.

The Secretariat for the review will be provided by the Menzies Research Centre’s Enterprise Policy Unit led by Andrew Bragg.

An international advisory panel will be assembled to increase focus on boosting Australia’s competitiveness. The composition of the international panel will be announced in 2017.




The following principles will be applied throughout this process:


  1. A strong economy is the basis of a just society.

  2. Governments must live within their means and ensure each generation passes on a better country and in good times the country builds reserves to meet the inevitable global and domestic shocks. 

  3. Governments have a sacred obligation to the taxpayer to ensure every cent is spent wisely, efficiently and effectively and publicly accounted for.

  4. Those people and businesses who can look after themselves should do so. 

  5. A just society focusses its support on the most vulnerable.



Tony Shepherd AO (Chairman)

Tony Shepherd AO has been a Director of the Menzies Research Centre since 2015. He is Chairman of Macquarie Specialised Management Limited (a global infrastructure fund), the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust and ASTRA (the subscription TV Association).  He is also a Director of Virgin Australia International Holdings Limited and an advisor to Lend Lease, the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ and the ASIC External Advisory Panel. Tony has had an extensive career in Australia and overseas in the private and public sectors.  He pioneered private infrastructure with projects such as the Sydney Harbour Tunnel, Melbourne City Link and East Link and a range of power stations, water treatment plants, railways and light rail. He was the inaugural Chairman of WestConnex.

The Hon Warwick Smith AM

Warwick Smith is a Senior Managing Director of the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (‘ANZ’), Chairman, New South Wales & Australian Capital Territory and a Director of ANZ Bank China; Chairman of the Advisory Board of Australian Capital Equity and a Director of Seven Group Holdings with interest in West Australian News, Coates Hire, WesTrac and Caterpillar industrial services and equipment in Western Australia, New South Wales and North East China; Chairman of the Australia–China Council, Global Trustee of the Asia Society; formerly Chairman of E*TRADE, the Australian Sports Commission and an Executive Director with Macquarie Bank; and a Federal Government Minister with a career spanning 15 years. In 2016 Mr Smith completed a review of the Federal Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development; a report on the Feasibility of a Second Tasmanian Interconnector. He also completed reviews of the Federal Department of Finance, the Contestability of Members of Parliamentary Services and an Independent Review of the Regional Development Australia Programme.

Peter Strong

Peter Strong is CEO of the Council of Small Business of Australia and has been in this role since June 2010.  Peter aggressively advocates for the small business community and key economic issues to politicians, business leaders and government agencies.  Peter participates in many advisory groups to the Australian government including: Chair of the Digital Business Council, Chairman of Treasury’s Business Advisory Forum on Standard Business Reporting (SBR); a Board member of the SBR Board; a member of the Australian Tax Commissioner’s small business advisory group. He also participates in a series of Mental Health Advisory groups as well as the Business Advisory Forum for ASIC; and various other business related groups. Prior to appointment as CEO of COSBOA, Peter owned and managed a bookshop and wine bar/café; and consulted on micro-economic reform in developing economies with the World Bank and the United Nations.

Josephine Sukkar

Josephine Sukkar is Principal and Co-Owner of Buildcorp, which was established in 1990, with a turnover of $500 million. She is currently a director of Opera Australia, the Centenary Institute, the Australian Rugby Foundation and the Sydney University Football Club Foundation, and is Chair of the Buildcorp Foundation. She has previously been a director of The Trust Company and the YWCA NSW, where she served as Co-President. In 2015 Mrs Sukkar conducted a governance review of NSW Rugby Union and the Waratahs Rugby. She serves on the Nominations Committee of the Australian Rugby Union and is President of Australian Women’s Rugby. Through Buildcorp she has been a major sponsor of men’s and women’s rugby for over 25 years. She is Chair of the Salvation Army Doorknock Appeal for the Sydney East Area, and through the Buildcorp Foundation has been a major donor to Lifeline. In 2016 she Chaired the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Judges Panel, and has served as a judge of the General Sir John Monash Scholarship Awards. Having trained as a high school science teacher, she is passionate about diversity in STEM. She a member of the Property Council’s Diversity Committee and is a member of Chief Executive Women.

Dr Peta Seaton

Dr Peta Seaton has been a Director of the Menzies Research Centre since 2015. Dr Seaton is Chair of Australian Hearing and is the principal of Strategic Consulting, providing counsel to CEOs on strategic issues including health, finance, infrastructure, public sector services and change management. From 2010 – 2014 she served as Deputy Chairman of the Bradman Foundation and as a Director of CARE Australia.  In August 2015, Dr Seaton was appointed to the University of Sydney’s Near Eastern Archaeology Foundation Board.   A former NSW Parliamentarian and frontbencher, Dr Seaton served as Director of Transition and Director of Strategic Priorities in the NSW Premier’s Office from 2011 establishing the NSW Strategic Plan and performance reporting, Infrastructure NSW, the NSW Public Service Commission, and Service NSW, asset management and State Owned Corporations reform, along with key elements of the NSW/Federal reform agenda.

Ben Heap

Ben Heap is a founding partner of H2 Ventures, a venture capital investment firm focused on innovation and digital disruption in the wealth and financial services sector. He is also a member of the Australian Commonwealth Government’s ‘Fintech Advisory Group’. He was formerly the Managing Director & CEO of ASX listed investment company, Australasian Wealth Investments Limited; and prior to that the Managing Director of UBS Global Asset Management in Australia.  During his tenure at UBS, Ben was a non-executive director of the Financial Services Council, the peak industry body for the financial services industry.

Geoffrey Winters 

Geoffrey Winters was born and raised in country New South Wales and is a descendant of the Gamillaroi people near Walgett. Geoffrey works for the boutique law firm Chalk & Fitzgerald who specialise in native title, Aboriginal land rights as well as economic and policy development. 

In 2015, Geoffrey was appointed by the Australian Government to the Council of AIATSIS, a collecting, publishing and research institute that is considered Australia's premier resource for information about Indigenous cultures and societies. The Institute is a leader in ethical research and the handling of culturally sensitive material and holds in its collections over 50 years of materials. In 2015 Geoffrey was also appointed the inaugural Governor of the AIATSIS Foundation. 


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