CEDA CEO update: 16 November 2020

RBA Governor brings optimism, calls for greater risk appetite among business and confirms Australia on the road to recovery in CEDA Annual Dinner address, shares CEDA CEO Melinda Cilento.

As I send this newsletter, CEDA is holding its Annual Dinner, capping what has been an extraordinary year. Like everything this year, this event is a little bit different. We have been lucky enough to welcome guests in-person at the dinner in Sydney, while simultaneously livestreaming the event. Unfortunately, neither our Chairman, Diane Smith-Gander, nor myself could be there in person, but I’m thrilled to see so many familiar faces were able to attend in-person tonight.  

In his Annual Dinner address tonight, Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe struck an optimistic tone, and highlighted that Australia was now on the road to economic recovery. He urged households and businesses to guard against becoming too risk averse, and said “if businesses are to seize the opportunities that are out there to grow and to increase Australia's productive capital base, some degree of risk-taking is necessary”. He also pointed to the recent rapid digitisation of the economy, saying this would have a “positive payoff” for the economy and noting that as businesses become more digital “we will all see the benefits in terms of higher productivity”. But Dr Lowe also noted the risks of the dramatic slowing of population growth as a result of the pandemic, saying if population growth is to be noticeably slower in a post-COVID world, “the trajectory for our economy will look different too”. Asked about the West Australian economy by CEDA Chairman Diane Smith-Gander, he noted some companies are already reporting challenges finding the skilled workers they need. CEDA will have more to say on migration – in particular skilled migration – in an upcoming report. You can read more about that report in a new blog post by our Senior Economist Gabriela D’Souza here.

Earlier today CEDA held its first ever virtual AGM. CEDA Chairman Diane Smith-Gander did an excellent job stewarding proceedings, and I can confirm that all resolutions were passed unanimously. Congratulations to Rebecca Tomkinson on her election to the Board and Megan Motto on her re-election. A special thanks to all of the CEDA Trustees who joined in and for your questions. 

In other CEDA news, later this month we will host a special two-day digital Public Interest Technology (PIT) forum to examine how data and emerging technologies can be used in the public interest. The inaugural CEDA PIT Forum will drive a national conversation on what is needed to make Australia a global leader in the digital and technology spheres. Our first forum includes a strong focus on building trust in technology, the governance of emerging technologies and how trust can support and enable the development, take up and use of emerging technologies. Register to attend here.

On the international front, the weekend signing of the world's largest free-trade agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), should help to diversify Australia's trade relationships. This deal between 15 Asia-Pacific nations including China represents 30 per cent of global GDP and 30 per cent of the world's population. In our research series Australian Trade and Supply Chains, CEDA Chief Economist Jarrod Ball argued that Australia must remain open to trade and investment amid the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As trade tensions heat up, Australia must not retreat on its longstanding support for free trade. Instead, it must continue to support critical international institutions, negotiate new trade agreements and send clear signals to global investors.
Finally, we welcome Victoria’s announcement of a $5.3 billion plan to build 12,000 public and community housing homes over the next four years. The package is expected to boost Victoria's social housing supply by 10 per cent. CEDA’s recent paper, Home truths: the role of housing in economic recovery, called for governments to invest more in social housing, noting that such investment can boost economic activity while improving the lives of Australia’s poorest households

Join CEDA members and guests to hear how the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can guide Australia to become sustainable, now and into the future. The first event of CEDA’s program on the development goals will highlight key lessons from organisations engaging with SDGs. Speakers include: Monash Sustainable Development Institute Chair Professor John Thwaites; CBUS Portfolio Head, Responsible Investment Nicole Bradford; Monash Sustainable Development Institute Professor of Policy and Impact Professor Rod Glover; and non-executive director and sustainability advisor Sam Mostyn. Register here.

Next week, join us for our livestream event Reimagining workplace mental health on Tuesday 24 November. This livestream will examine: the financial and social impact of workplace mental health on the economy; strategic approaches to mental health investments that benefit employers and employees; and developing comprehensive policies that increase social inclusion and reduce stigma. Speakers include: National Mental Health Commission Chair Lucinda Brogden AM, The University of Sydney Brain and Mind Centre Co-Director, Health & Policy, Professor Ian Hickie AM; Microsoft Australia Managing Director and Chair Corporate Mental Health Alliance in Australia (CMHAA) Steven Worrall; and PwC Australia Partner Kristin Stubbins. Register here.

Then, join Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas to hear about the state’s policy priorities for the year ahead in our livestream event, Victorian State Budget briefing, on Wednesday 25 November. Tim Pallas has said this budget would continue the state government’s “unprecedented support for Victorian families and businesses, and kick start our economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic”. Hear from the Treasurer about the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the extended lockdown on the state’s economy the day after the Budget release. Register here.

In the latest episode of our podcast series The Greater Good, I’m joined by Griffith University School of Humanities Senior Lecturer Dr Paul Williams to discuss Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s unexpected win of a third term in the recent Queensland state election, the economic hit from the pandemic to the Sunshine State’s economy and climate policy. Listen here.

Today on the blog, CEDA Senior Economist, Gabriela D’Souza, provides a look at CEDA’s upcoming report into skill mismatch in Australia’s permanent migration system and shows how effectively using the skills of permanent migrants can prepare Australia for the labour market of the future. Read more here.

Also on the blog, PwC Director, Economics and Policy Dr Sharon Ponniah and Strategy& Partner Damien Angus discuss how organisations are recognising their growing responsibility to ensure the mental health and wellbeing of their employees. Read more here.
This week we are pleased to welcome Powerlink Queensland to the CEDA community. And thank you to our renewing national member Gilbert + Tobin.

New state member
Powerlink Queensland (QLD)

Renewing national member
Gilbert + Tobin
As always, stay safe.
Melinda Cilento

About CEDA

CEDA – the Committee for Economic Development of Australia – is an independent, not-for-profit membership organisation.

We identify policy issues that matter for Australia’s future. We work to drive policies that deliver better economic, social and environmental outcomes for Australia. We deliver on our purpose by: Leveraging insights from our members to identify and understand the most important issues Australia faces. Facilitating collaboration and idea sharing to invoke imaginative, innovative and progressive policy solutions. Providing a platform to stimulate thinking, raise new ideas and debate critical and challenging issues. Influencing decision makers in government, business and the community by delivering objective information and expert analysis and advocating in support of our positions. CEDA's membership spans every state and territory and includes Australia's leading businesses, community organisations, government departments and academic institutions. The organisation was founded in 1960 by leading economist Sir Douglas Copland, and his legacy of applying economic analysis to practical problems to aid the development of Australia continues as we celebrate 60 years of influence, reform and impact across the nation.;