Technology | Innovation

CEDA CEO update: 24 May 2021

CEDA CEO Melinda Cilento considers the need for strong leadership and more robust assessment processes in Australia's tech and data sectors. 

Last week CEDA released the first paper in our Public Interest Technology (PIT) program, Technology and trust: Priorities for a reimagined economy led by technology, and the response has been very positive. To become a leading digital nation, Australia must increase public trust in technology and data, and show clear and consistent leadership. We are calling for the appointment of a Chief Technologist to guide the development of Australia’s technology agenda. The Chief Technologist would oversee the creation of robust and transparent technology assessments, and be a central point of communication with governments, the public and industry. As the current debate regarding cryptocurrency regulation in Australia highlights, we need to change how we think about the stewardship and regulation of emerging technologies – this sits at the core of our PIT work.

The PIT field is well-established in the US and UK, and we want to see it gain traction in Australia. I will be speaking at Swinburne and La Trobe’s Technology X Society forum on Public Interest Technology on 15 June about building community trust in tech, alongside a panel of experts from industry and academia. You can register for the livestream here

Making real progress on Australia’s digital ambitions requires the right skills. As our Senior Economist Gabriela D’Souza reminded us on the ABC’s Q&A last week, highly skilled migrants are critical for Australia’s tech sector. Gaby continues to lead the communication of CEDA’s important migration work. We can safely open our borders if we take steps to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 spreading, such as an improved vaccine rollout and quarantine system, but we cannot recover the economic opportunities lost by keeping the country locked up indefinitely. A clear roadmap detailing required next steps to enable border opening would underpin confidence and likely boost vaccination rates.


It is great to see interest in CEDA’s interactive livestream program continue to grow.

On Friday 4 June, we are hosting a livestream on Building resilient Australian cities with Green Building Council CEO Davina Rooney; Property Council CEO Ken Morrison; Arup Australian Cities Leader Malcolm Smith; and Siemens CEO NZ and NSW Regional Manager Paul Ravlich. You can register for that event  here.

Then on Tuesday 8 June, join CEDA and Productivity Commissioner Chair Michael Brennan for a livestream discussion on the productivity challenges facing the Australian economy in recovery. You can register for that event here.


On CEDA’s Policy Snacks podcast, I spoke with Newgate Australia Partner Feyi Akindoyeni about what Public Interest Technology means and why it matters for the future of the Australian economy. You can listen to that here.

On the Economists’ Corner podcast, our Chief Economist Jarrod Ball discussed the role that trade will need to play in Australia’s recovery with University of Adelaide Institute for International Trade Executive Director, Professor Peter Draper. Listen to that here.


The Federal Budget included a raft of measures to address housing affordability, but in an opinion article for CEDA, Curtin University Professor and ARC Future Fellow Rachel Ong ViforJ says the Budget did not do enough to address the structural issues driving the problem. Read that article here.

The Federal Budget also included more than $17.7 billion to address the findings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. Flinders University Professor of Health Economics Julie Ratcliffe says while this cash injection will help address the most urgent issues in the sector, more fundamental and far-reaching changes will be needed to truly reform aged care. Read that article here.

2020 was a devastating year for Australian tourism, particularly in Victoria, where operators were affected by both COVID-19 and the 2019-20 bushfires. Victoria University School for the Visitor Economy Director Dr Joanne Pyke and Research Fellow Dr Gabrielle Lindsay-Smith draw on their latest research to show how these dual crises have affected local operators and how the industry can become more resilient. Read more here.  


A big thanks to all our renewing members this week.


Renewing Lead members


Australian Unity


Reserve Bank of Australia





Renewing Elevate members


City of Joondalup

Federal Dept of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development & Communications

Queensland Airports

Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions



Renewing Discover members

Central Coast Council


Delta Electricity

Economic Regulation Authority


Hender Consulting

NSW Public Service Commission

NT Department of Treasury and Finance

State Revenue Office (Victoria)

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research


Until next time, all the best.  

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.;