Technology | Innovation

CEDA CEO update: 23 November 2020

State budgets must help drive dynamism and seize digital opportunities, writes CEDA CEO Melinda Cilento.

We are now well into state budget season, with Western Australia and New South Wales having handed down their economic plans for the year ahead, and Victoria’s to be announced tomorrow. Along with the Federal Budget, these announcements all share a focus on economic recovery, and rightly so, with significant spending and investment plans, in particular on infrastructure.
We needed governments to pull the fiscal lever at the height of the crisis, but it is now good to see some looking at the longer term. In particular, NSW announced a significant tax measure with its plan to phase out stamp duty on property purchases, a move CEDA has previously advocated for. It is good to see such initiatives emerge at this time, and we hope to see more in the category of ambitious reforms next year.  
While we know the recovery is and should be all about jobs and stimulating activity quickly, we have received interesting feedback from members that work closely with governments suggesting there is too little appetite for rethinking how we approach projects in new or innovative ways. The COVID-19 pandemic presents us with opportunities to use digital technology to deliver projects differently. We cannot afford to let these opportunities pass us by.
These insights are among the many themes that have emerged from recent roundtable discussions held as part of our upcoming program of work on business competitiveness and dynamism. If you would like to understand more about this work or get involved, email our Chief Economist Jarrod Ball.
Another new program of work in our sights is Public Interest Technology (PIT). Next week, we will hold a digital forum with international and Australian experts to discuss how emerging technologies can be used in the public interest, to help chart a path to economic recovery for Australia. Over two mornings on November 30 and December 1, the inaugural CEDA PIT forum will drive a national discussion on how Australia can become a leader this field. Key issues include: the governance of emerging technology; building community trust in tech; empowering consumers; and what the COVID-19 digital acceleration tells us about risk and reward. You can see the great line up of speakers and register for the event here.
Still on the theme of recovery, NSW is already looking at how it can start to welcome more international students and skilled migrants in a COVID-safe way. We know from member feedback in Western Australia that businesses there are struggling to find people with the skills they now need, and others are reporting challenges in accessing the digital skills and experience they need to transform business processes following the acceleration of digital take-up. Australia has tackled its COVID-19 outbreaks and is now in an enviable position on this front compared with the rest of the world (always touching wood!). We are well-placed to attract the best and brightest minds from around the world and should be looking to make the most of this. CEDA will have more to say on skilled migration in an upcoming report due out next month.
Finally, last week saw the soft launch of our Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) network. We have already received expressions of interest for foundation partners for this work. If you would like to get involved, please contact our Director of Partnerships and Collaboration, Hamilton Calder.

Tomorrow, join us for our livestream event Reimagining workplace mental health. This discussion will examine topics including the financial and social impact of workplace mental health on the economy 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, as noted above, 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 directly from the Treasurer about the full impact of the extended lockdown on the state’s economy the day after the Budget release. Register here.

Next week, we welcome members and guests from across the country to hear West Australian Premier the Hon. Mark McGowan deliver the 2020 State of the State address in Perth. WA was the only state to record economic growth in 2019-20. While the long term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to affect the state’s economy, health and regions, the government is working on a $5.5 billion recovery plan with a focus on job creation, healthcare and revamping infrastructure. Hear directly from the Premier about his aspirations and plans for The West. Register to attend the event in-person here, or for the livestream here.

Finally, in the latest episode of our new series One Question With, Asialink Group CEO Penny Burtt answered questions from the CEDA community on topics ranging from how the US election result will shape Australia's relations with South-East Asia, to which destination is top of her holiday list once international travel resumes. Watch here.

In the latest episode of our podcast series The Economists’ Corner, CEDA Chief Economist Jarrod Ball unpacks the New South Wales budget with the state’s Chief Economist Stephen Walters and ANZ Senior Economist Cherelle Murphy. They discuss how NSW will handle its first deficit in nearly a decade, the state’s bold move to phase out stamp duty, social housing spending and keeping the state open while managing COVID clusters. Listen here.

Following his recent appearance at CEDA’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) event, Monash Sustainable Development Institute, ClimateWorks Australia & BehaviourWorks Australia Chair, John Thwaites, writes that the SDGs can structure an effective recovery for Australia, but only if governments set meaningful targets. Read more on the blog here.

A big thank you to each of our renewing members this week.

Renewing national members
ANZ Banking Group

Renewing state members
Burrell Stockbroking and Superannuation (QLD)
Fair Work Ombudsman (VIC)
InfraSol Group (NSW)
Queensland Department of Youth Justice (QLD)
RAA of SA (SA)
The Star Entertainment Group (QLD)
University of Notre Dame (WA)

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.;