State of the Nation





State of the Nation 2017
will be held on Wednesday 31 May and Thursday 1 June 2017.

For more than 35 years CEDA has hosted its annual State of the Nation conference in Canberra. Each year the conference brings together the best public policy minds from politics, business, academia and community organisations for open discussions on the key issues facing Australia's economic and social development.

Described in the media as "Australia's premier policymaker conference", State of the Nation attracts ministers and shadow ministers, public servants, commentators and industry analysts for an insider's view of the Federal Government's policies. Participants discuss issues directly with speakers and other attendees, and engage in networking opportunities.

Australia has enjoyed 25 years of consecutive economic growth. But with increased global competition, geopolitical uncertainty, industry upheaval, rising inequality and stifled economic reform, will Australia be able to continue its golden run?

In CEDA’s 2017 State of the Nation conference we will examine:

  • How our high-performing companies compete in the global marketplace;
  • How we can set up our growth sectors for success; and
  • How to improve economic security in times of change and uncertainty.

Session themes and confirmed speakers

Keynote speakers

The Hon. Josh Frydenberg, Federal Minister for the Environment and Energy

Senator the Hon. Fiona Nash, Federal Minister for Regional Development

The Hon. Christian Porter, Federal Minister for Social Services

The Hon. Christopher Pyne, Federal Minister for Defence Industry

The Hon. Bill Shorten, Federal Leader of the Opposition

Session themes and confirmed speakers

Australia: leader or laggard in the race to secure our future industries?

  • Jeff Connolly, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Siemens
  • Elizabeth Lewis-Gray, Chair and Managing Director, Gekko Systems, Chair, METS Ignited
  • Adrian Turner, CEO, Data61 and Co-Chair, Cyber Security Growth Centre
  • Dr Alex Zelinsky, Chief Defence Scientist and Head, Defence Science and Technology Group, Federal Department of Defence

Job security, disadvantage and Australia’s rustbelt: where to from here?

  • Dr Fiona Haslam McKenzie, Co-Director, Centre for Regional Development, University of Western Australia
  • The Hon. Dr Andrew Leigh, Federal Shadow Assistant Treasurer
  • Renée Leon PSM, Secretary, Federal Department of Employment
  • Chris Sutherland, Managing Director, Programmed

Trade in the Trump era: a new risk or a new opportunity?

  • Justin Brown, Deputy Secretary, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Dr Stephanie Fahey, Chief Executive Officer, Austrade
  • Grant King, President, Business Council of Australia
  • Dr Geoff Raby, Former Australian Ambassador to China

Innovation and collaboration: what matters and what can be done?

  • Andrew Charlton, Director, AlphaBeta
  • Professor Eeva Leinonen, Vice Chancellor, Murdoch University
  • Dr Larry Marshall, Chief Executive, CSIRO

State Treasurers' Panel

  • The Hon. Tom Koutsantonis, Treasurer of South Australia
  • The Hon. Tim Pallas, Treasurer of Victoria

The Senate Crossbench

  • Senator Pauline Hanson, One Nation
  • Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, The Australian Greens
  • Senator David Leyonhjelm, Liberal Democratic Party
  • Senator Nick Xenophon, Nick Xenophon Team

                                                                       Register for State of the Nation 2017

Supported by CEDA members: 

Major sponsors  


Highlights from State of the Nation 2016

The 37th annual State of the Nation was held at Parliament House, Canberra, on the 10th and 11th of October 2016, with the theme, A new policy agenda: innovation, growth and the future economy. See the full program for State of the Nation 2016.

Christine Holgate: Australia should invest more in Asia

Dr Martin Parkinson PSM: Our future will be determined by resourcefulness of our people

The Hon. Bill Shorten: Our enterprise bargaining structure is stuck in neutral

Jillian Broadbent AO: Interface between public and private sectors needs to improve

The Hon. Greg Hunt: Innovation is about productivity

The Hon. Tom Koutsantonis: Budget surplus can be achieved by restrained spending

The Hon. Jason Clare: Australia is falling behind in STEM

State of the Nation 2016 videos and news

Keynote address and Q&A with Federal Shadow Treasurer, the Hon. Jason Clare

Read: Digitisation key for growing economy.

Keynote address and Q&A with Minister for the Environment and Energy, the Hon. Josh Frydenberg

Read: Commonwealth and states need to find common ground on energy.


Keynote address and Q&A with Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the Hon. Greg Hunt

Read: Innovation drives productivity and better living standards.


Keynote address and Q&A with Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon. Sussan Ley


Keynote address and Q&A with Dr Martin Parkinson PSM

Read: Global economy dependent on innovation.


Keynote address and Q&A with Federal Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Bill Shorten

Read: Australians need to know where they fit in the future economy.


Balancing the budget: Address by  Paul McClintock AO

Read: Budget deficit still grave problem.

Working together on economic reform - State Treasurers panel

Read: Economic restraint delivering for States.

The Hon. Gladys Berejiklian MP, Treasurer of New South Wales

The Hon. Tom Koutsantonis MP, Treasurer of South Australia

The Hon. Tim Pallas MP, Treasurer of Victoria


Megatrends and the innovation imperative

Read: Policy must change in digital age.

  Catherine Caruana-McManus, Director, Giant Ideas, Non-Executive Director, Meshed; Advisory Council Member, SMART Infrastructure Facility

Dr Nicholas Gruen, Chief Executive Officer, Lateral Economics

Dr Stefan Hajkowicz, Principal Scientist, Strategy and Foresight, Data61 | CSIRO

Thinking long-term: can industry seize the innovation opportunity?  

Read: Can industry seize the innovation opportunity?     

Andrew Bassat, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, SEEK

Jillian Broadbent AO, Chair, Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Chair, Swiss Re Life; Director, Woolworths

Christine Holgate, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Blackmores

Strategic choices: Australia's national innovation system

Read: Industry and university links will drive innovation.

Bill Ferris AC, Chair, Innovation and Science Australia

Professor Margaret Gardner AO, Vice-Chancellor and President, Monash University

Dr Katherine Woodthorpe, Non-Executive Director, ARENA, Fishburners; Sirtex Medical; Capital Markets CRC; former Chief Executive, AVCAL; former Commercialisation Australia Board Member

Funding future infrastructure

Read: Community consideration essential in funding future infrastructure.

Phil Davies, Chief Executive Officer, Infrastructure Australia

Mark Delaney, Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Investment Officer, AustralianSuper

Matina Papathanasiou, Deputy Head of Global Infrastructure, QIC   

Social innovation and competition in human services

Read: Why we need competition in human services.

Bessi Graham, Co-Founder and Chief Executive, The Difference Incubator

Professor Stephen King, Commissioner, Productivity Commission and Adjunct Professor, Monash University

Rohan Mead, Group Managing Director and CEO, Australian Unity   

Breaking the rules: policy disruption in the new economy

Read: Disruption and regulation in the new economy.

Lara Olsen, Regional Manager, Business Development, Tesla Energy

David Rohrsheim, General Manager, Uber Australia and New Zealand

Andrew Walduck, Executive General Manager, Trusted eCommerce Solutions, Australia Post

State of the Nation blogs

State of the Nation 2016: VET must be supported through transition or face skill shortages

Our future economy, and the skills needed, is a key topic at CEDA’s State of the Nation conference this year and it is timely given the announcement last week of a long needed overhaul of the vocational education sector. However, the old adage ‘be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water’, comes to mind at present given predictions of at least another year of turmoil for the sector as changes are implemented.

Read more | Professor the Hon. Stephen Martin | October 2016

State of the Nation 2016: Infrastructure funding - how to pay for the solutions we need

Infrastructure funding and financing are frequently discussed concepts, but getting to the bottom of what they mean can help policymakers find direct and effective ways to meet our future infrastructure needs. The 2015 Australian Infrastructure Audit found that current levels of infrastructure spending in Australia will be insufficient to support our growing population and harness the benefits of our close proximity to the booming economies of China and South-East Asia.

  Read more | Philip Davies | October 2016

State of the Nation 2016: R&D needs policies and initiatives that facilitate collaboration  

Following her appearance at CEDA's State of the Nation, Professor Margaret Gardner AO discusses R&D and collaboration in Australia. 

Read more | Professor Margaret Gardner AO | October 2016

State of the Nation gallery