A return to economic reform must be a priority if we are to protect and ensure ongoing improvements to Australian's living standards, CEDA's 2012 Economic and Political Overview publication being released today highlights.
CEDA Chief Executive Professor the Hon Stephen Martin said the publication provides analysis and discussion on key political and economic factors that will have a significant impact on Australia in 2012.
"In addition to economic and political analysis of the year ahead, productivity and federal/state financial relations are also key areas examined," Professor Martin said.
"The EPO publication and conferences, starting in Sydney today, draw together experts and facilitate debate on the economic and policy challenges Australia will face in 2012.
"While Australia's economic outlook remains positive at present, productivity is a key issue that needs more public focus.
"If we are to insulate Australia from future economic downturns and international shocks, then the political and public appetite for productivity enhancing economic reform must return.
"Concern around productivity is only going to increase with recent announcements of job cuts and ongoing industrial relations issues. However, we are yet to see any commitment from our political leaders, at either state or federal level to tackle this issue."
Professor Martin said there had been a hiatus from difficult reform decisions for more than a decade and we need to see sectors of the economy that have remained insulated from competitive pressures exposed to greater levels of scrutiny.
"As highlighted in the EPO, this should include service sectors dominated by public sector agencies such as healthcare, education, public transport and law enforcement, private service professions such as law and medicine and parts of the agricultural and aviation sectors," he said.
"We also need urgent reforms including the removal of inefficient taxes and improvements to the regulatory environment, which will allow industry and households to respond and adapt to economic events as they emerge.
"By doing this we will ensure these sectors are better equiped to adapt or innovate in response to market pressures.
"Without action Australia will be increasingly vulnerable to international economic conditions and, given what has occurred in the last few years, this is a situation we must avoid."
Contributors to this year's EPO include:
The release of the 30th edition of CEDA's EPO coincides with a series of events being held across Australia starting in Sydney today. EPO events are scheduled for Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart.
The 2012 EPO is supported by:
Opinion piece, The Australian, 16 February, Professor the Hon Stephen Martin's