International affairs

CEDA CEO Update: 2 November 2020

The US election is in focus in a critical week for the global economy, writes CEDA CEO Melinda Cilento.

What a busy and important week for both the domestic and international economies, with several significant events on the horizon.

Here in Australia, all eyes will be on the Reserve Bank of Australia tomorrow, as it holds its regular Melbourne Cup Day meeting. The RBA has often adjusted interest rates on Cup Day and could do so again tomorrow, taking the official cash rate to a new record low. The impact of this decision will come as much from what it says about the strength of the economy as it will from any potential stimulus flowing from lower rates. Interesting times, as they say.

RBA Governor Philip Lowe is of course delivering CEDA’s 2020 Annual Dinner address, providing one of the first opportunities to hear directly from him about the Bank’s view of the economic outlook after that meeting. You can register to attend the dinner here or to watch the livestream here.

In the United States, polls open in the presidential election tomorrow night Australian time. We may not know the results for a while, but either way it will be a defining election for the US and international economies. On Friday, we will host an interactive livestream on the vote, US election - what the outcome means for Australia. To attend, register here.

Finally, across Europe, we are seeing COVID-19 continue to spread, and I hope measures to slow transmission, including the introduction of a second lockdown in several countries, can help bring those outbreaks under control.

Back home, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought fundamental shifts in how human services are delivered in Australia. Keep an eye out as later this week as we publish a new report on the digitisation of human services. This report outlines the case for governments to build on the rapid digitisation sparked by the pandemic, and to accelerate the use of technology and data to deliver better services for the community.

On the subject of opportunities brought by digital and emerging technologies, we are delighted to announce some of the speakers who have confirmed for CEDA’s first Public Interest Technology forum. As Australia looks to recover from the COVID-19-induced recession, it is critical that we make the most of these opportunities to enable new business and employment opportunities, improve government and human services and provide new solutions to address our most pressing social and environmental challenges. This requires a proactive, collaborative and adaptive approach to technology that puts people and societal impacts – that is, public interest –  at its heart. This is the aspiration of our new Public Interest Technology program.

Confirmed speakers for the virtual forum, scheduled to be held on Tuesday 30 November and Wednesday 1 December, include:
  • Michelle Price, CEO AustCyber
  • Justine Lacy, Director Responsible, Innovation Future Science Platform, CSIRO
  • Stephen King, Commissioner, Productivity Commission
  • Susan Redden Makatoa, Group Managing Director, Edelman
  • Dr Matt Beard, Fellow, Ethics Centre
  • Dr Caitlin Curtis, Centre for Policy Futures (UQ)
  • Rossana Bianchi, Data Ethics, KPMG
  • Prof Jeannie Marie Paterson, Centre for AI and Digital Ethics, Melbourne Uni
While we continue with a packed program of virtual events, our face-to-face programming schedule is gaining momentum. Last week, WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt addressed a CEDA gathering in Perth, where he highlighted the strong bounce-back in the WA economy. He noted that nations and states that had seen the most success in stopping the spread of COVID-19 had also suffered the least damage to their economies. And, as noted above, those of you in NSW will be able to attend CEDA’s Annual Dinner in person in two weeks’ time. With a public event also in the pipeline for Adelaide before the year is out, we are looking forward to being able to resume face-to-face events in Victoria in due course.

Later this week, viewers from around the country will have the chance to hear from NSW Premier, the Hon. Gladys Berejiklian, when she delivers the 2020 State of the State address on Thursday 5 November. The Premier will outline her government’s forward agenda, its policy priorities, investment and future plans. Register here.

As we look ahead to 2021, two recently released reports remind us there remain other significant issues for the nation to address beyond the COVID-19 crisis. Last week’s release of the report of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements, which was prompted by last summer’s devastating bushfires, reinforces that climate change is increasing the severity of extreme weather events and natural disasters. Meanwhile, new modelling released today by Deloitte Access Economics finds the annual economic effects of climate change will be more severe than those of COVID-19 by 2050 unless action is taken to address the issue.

While that research finds it would cost Australia $3.4 trillion and almost 900,000 jobs over the next 50 years, devastating industries such as tourism and mining, it also highlights the $680 billion economic and 250,000 job opportunities available if we lean into these challenges. Through our nation-wide program of public and member-only events and conversations, CEDA  will over the year ahead proactively explore the opportunities associated with net zero by 2050, how Australia can manage those opportunities and transitions well, as well as how we can best manage climate risks and build our business, environmental and community resilience. If there are speakers you would like to hear from or specific issues that you would like to see explored, please be in touch. 

This week, CEDA welcomes members and guests from across the country to hear NSW Premier, the Hon. Gladys Berejiklian, deliver the 2020 State of the State address on Thursday 5 November. NSW is a half a trillion-dollar economy. Its ability to navigate and recover from the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic has implications for the future of the state and national economy. In her address, the Premier will outline the government’s forward agenda, its policy priorities, investment and spending and future plans. Register here.

As noted above, we’ll also host an interactive livestream on the US Presidential Election on Friday 6 November, US election - what the outcome means for Australia. Hear expert advice on how Australia can successfully navigate a second-term Trump presidency or a change in government in the United States. Speakers include: Asialink Chief Executive, Penny Burtt; S&P Global Ratings Global Chief Economist, Paul Gruenwald; United States Studies Centre Chief Executive, Professor Simon Jackman; and Austrade Deputy Chief Executive Global Client Services, Sally-Ann Watts. Register here.

Further ahead, on Friday 13 November we’ll hear WA Opposition Leader the Hon. Liza Harvey MLA outline the Opposition's vision for Western Australia in an interactive livestream as we head towards the 2021 state election. At this event, Liza will be joined by CEDA National Chairman Diane Smith-Gander AO. Register here.

In the latest episode of our podcast series The Economists’ Corner, CEDA Chief Economist Jarrod Ball is joined by Curtin University’s Professor Rachel Ong ViforJ and University of Adelaide’s Professor Chris Leishman to discuss their new CEDA paper Home Truths: the role of housing in economic recovery and how COVID-19 has changed the conversation around housing policy. Take a listen.

Ahead of the release of CEDA’s Digitising human services report this later week, Microsoft Australia Health Industry Executive and Chief Medical Officer Dr Nic Woods argues that our COVID-19 response is an important step on the journey to improving healthcare delivery for all Australians. Read that here.

A thanks to our new national member ServiceNow. It is great to welcome you to the CEDA community. And thank you again to our renewing members this week.

New national member

Renewing national members

Renewing state members
Fragile to Agile (SA)
Juniper (WA)
NSW Ministry of Health (NSW)
RBC Capital Markets (NSW)
WA Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation (WA)
WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (WA)
Finally, we are glad to see life returning to normal in Victoria as that state starts to reopen. I would like to thank the many trustees and members who have sent messages of support and encouragement over recent weeks and months to the team and me. We have appreciated your encouragement and feedback, and we are hoping to see you all again in person soon.

As always, stay safe, and if it’s your thing, good luck at the races.

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.;