CEDA CEO update: 7 December 2020

Growth figures a cause for optimism in the new year | 2021 Copland Leadership Program launched

It is great to be coming to the end of 2020 with some positive news on the economy. Last week's national accounts showed GDP grew by 3.3 per cent in the September quarter. It was the strongest quarterly growth in 44 years and technically, it brings an end to the COVID-19 recession. Despite the good news, however, we are still far from where we were at the end of last year. We face a long road ahead on the path to recovery, with much more to do next year to help drive sustainable, long-term growth.

While looking ahead to 2021, we are thrilled to announce we are now taking applications for the 2021 Copland Leadership Programs in Western Australia and New South Wales. Next year is the 10th anniversary of the Copland program in the West, while in NSW the program has been running since 2003. We have confirmed former South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill, now chief executive of the Minderoo Foundation’s early childhood development initiative Thrive by Five, as a speaker at the WA program. Find out more information and apply to join the program here.  

On the research front, we have just released a paper by social policy experts from the Life Course Centre, led by Janeen Baxter, that looks at the opportunities for rethinking long-standing rules around how we live and work. In Never let a crisis go to waste: social policy opportunities from COVID-19, they outline how the pandemic allowed seemingly entrenched institutional frameworks across education, labour markets and tax and transfer policies to be redesigned overnight. They argue that what we learn and do today will have significant bearing on our response to future crises.

Last week’s two-day Public Interest Technology (PIT) forum was a great success, and generated some compelling discussions, with fantastic insights from all speakers. By holding the event as a livestream we were able to include a range of perspectives, including from international experts such as SocietyInside Director Hilary Sutcliffe and Salesforce Principal of Ethical AI Practice Yoav Schlesinger.

The conversations were broad-ranging, providing great leads for further work on topics including: building ethical skills and capabilities to help put the public interest at the heart of the development and use of technology, and the need for greater cross-sectoral collaboration to understand and manage the implications of digital and emerging technologies.

Key highlights included:
  • SocietyInside’s Hilary Sutcliffe explained why trustworthiness and earning trust in emerging technologies are so important;
  • G4S Managing Director Joe Sofra spoke about avoiding being ‘risk dumb’ when it comes to digital and emerging technologies. He said it was important to be ‘risk smart’ by learning from this year’s experiences to manage risks and opportunities effectively; 
  • Gradient Institute Chief Executive Bill Simpson-Young discussed how “easy it is to do unlawful things” with machine learning – and explained how to avoid doing so;
  • Productivity Commission Commissioner Stephen King pointed out that regulators often seem to go in search of a problem when new technologies evolve rapidly, while also noting they could do a better job of using existing laws to address areas of community concern;
  • Our polls showed that, surprisingly, 85 per cent of our audience did not know much about the new consumer data right – clearly there is more work to be done on that front.
You can watch these and every session from the PIT forum here

Finally, it was great to see CEDA delivering one of its blockbuster WA events with a sold-out State of the State address last week. Premier Mark McGowan proved once again his ability to pull a crowd! I have to say the team and I are really looking forward to more of the same around the country next year.  Suffice to say I would welcome the opportunity to catch up with members face-to-face.

For our final event of the year, join Deputy Prime Minister The Hon. Michael McCormack for a special livestream, Optimising Australia's rail system for the future, on Monday 14 December. Australia has the sixth largest rail network in the world. It plays a critical role connecting markets, cities and regions. Hear how innovations in our rail transport system are driving productivity and resilience, and enabling economic growth across the country. Speakers include: Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, The Hon. Michael McCormack; Australian Rail Track Corporation Chief Executive Mark Campbell; and Pacific National Chief Executive and Freight on Rail Group (FORG) Chair Dean Dalla Valle. Register here.

On the blog this week, CEDA’s Perth-based Senior Economist Cassandra Winzar considers Western Australia’s path through the COVID-19 pandemic, following our State of the State event with WA Premier Mark McGowan. Cassandra writes that after a protracted economic downturn in the years leading up to 2020, the WA economy has emerged from COVID-19 as the strongest in the nation, and the only state to post a budget surplus. But despite touting itself as an ‘island within an island’ during COVID-19, WA cannot stand on its own forever. Interstate and international trade and tourism are important to the state economy and will eventually need to be restored. Read more here.

Also new on the blog, Deloitte Access Economics Associate Director Claire Atkinson considers how we can use the COVID-19 crisis to mitigate the unfolding climate crisis. Analysis by Deloitte Access Economics shows failing to prevent climate change will cause significant damage to the Australian economy. Claire writes that delivering a strong recovery requires an understanding of this exposed economic baseline and the need to build climate resilience. Read more here.

Thank you to our renewing state and national members this week.

Renewing national members
Alinta Energy

Renewing state members
Australian Energy Council (VIC)
Morgans (QLD)
Northern Beaches Council (NSW)
NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet (NSW)
StudyAdelaide (SA)
The Front Project (VIC)
Next week will be our final update for 2020, when we’ll send a special end-of-year message from myself and CEDA Chairman Diane Smith-Gander.

Until then, 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.;