The prime minister is poised to release his eagerly anticipated
exports and infrastructure taskforce report as early as today. The
move is being seen as an attempt to shape the debate ahead of what
promises to be a stormy COAG meeting on Friday.

The PM stacked his taskforce with red hot reformers – Henry Ergas and
Max Moore Wilton have been salivating at the chance to slash
regulation – so expect a report recommending a massive attack on red

Of course, one man’s red tape is another’s sensible regulation. And
the premiers, who face down the federal government at Friday’s COAG,
are likely to blanch at some of the reforms recommended by the PM’s

The move last month by John Anderson to seek control of regulation
and planning at Australia’s major export ports was seen as an attempt
to pre-empt the PM’s report, established to fix bottlenecks holding
back exports.

The report is believed to have thrown Anderson a bone, recommending
that his department should be involved in export infrastructure
logistics. But it will be interesting to see how the PM’s reformers
justify getting the transport bureaucracy in on the control of export
infrastructure chains.

The PM’s handling of the report will be fascinating. Sweeping
recommendations for reform will reveal the full extent of the Howard
government’s economic complacency; and the tough medicine will
probably further antagonise the states.

Friday’s meeting is shaping as one of the most divisive ever, with
divisions emerging over industrial relations and health. Throw a
hard-nosed infrastucture report in the mix, stand back and watch the

Policy wonks should monitor the taskforce’s site for an announcement