An important industry is deregulated in the name of efficiency and growth, with competition and innovation expected to do the job formerly left to regulation of protecting consumers and ensuring stability. Initially, everyone benefits. But the industry uses its growing wealth to distort the political system in its own interests. The media cheers them on both for ideological and commercial reasons. Competition vanishes as a few companies grow ever bigger. Crooks take advantage of the lack of regulation. Consumers and other businesses suffer. Firms that want to do the right thing face ever-growing pressure to succumb and join in the gouging and rorting. Eventually so egregious are the misconduct and rip-offs that governments are compelled -- against furious lobbying by the industry and its media allies -- to dramatically intervene, both to punish wrongdoers and re-establish the rule of law.
Sounds familiar, right? But which industry am I talking about? Financial services? How about the energy sector? How about vocational education? How about the retail sector's wage theft epidemic? Or how about residential development? In NSW the state government announced the "biggest shake-up in building and construction laws in our state's history", bringing to an end decades of lax regulation in which developers and builders found innovative ways to evade responsibility for shoddy work.