Blog Post Week 6
What I found particularly interesting this week was the discussion about unintended consequences. One of the readings, the text book I think, referred to planning for unintended consequences. I found that mildly amusing, for reasons that will become clear in a moment. That said, it did give an ‘out’ in planning for unintended consequences when it spoke of putting in scheduled reviews of policy.
In a previous life, I worked for Visa – the payment card people (credit, debit and prepaid card present, online and pay wave transactions). The payments industry was put under review boy the Australian government in the late 1990’s through the Wallis review. One of the ‘reforms’ introduced by the Australian Government, namely by the Reserve Bank, was to allow surcharging, where the cost of bank fees were passed onto consumers. The RBA was of the vow that if merchants charged too much, the market would act (aka consumers) and they would be attracted to merchants that didn’t pass on or overcharge their fees. The RBA was wrong, people didn’t shop around, they just paid more and the merchants turned into into a profit centre – putting a mark up on the bank fees they actually paid. The card companies warned the RBA of this but they ignored the expert advice of stakeholders. Consumers lost out. 10 years on, the government prohibited excessive surcharging.
An example of best practise in scenario planning concerns the recent Paris climate change conference and agreement (from December 2015). Every five years starting in 2023, countries who are signatories to the agreement will review and report on how they’re going in meeting their targets.This will allow for peer review. This part of the agreement was seen as been central to the success of the conference and the substance of the agreement. The ‘ratchet mechanism’ is seen as being critical to addressing climate change in the medium to long term.