CEDA's Big Issues project identifies major challenges for Australia over the next five to ten years. In its third year the concerns ranked highest were population growth, water and energy, all major long-term policy challenges for Australia and the world.
The project has been developed by CEDA with the support of IBIS World.
The starting point of the project was a nationwide survey of CEDA trustees and business leaders during October. This was followed by a roundtable where the CEDA Research and Policy Council reviewed and interpreted the issues adding their own ideas. CEDA's Research and Policy Council is comprised of eminent Australian business and academic leaders.
The top six issues identified through the survey were:
In the subsequent roundtable discussion, population strategies emerged as a key theme together with infrastructure and associated governance issues. The need for substantial new reform agendas was flagged, noting lessons from the successes and failures of the 1980s and 1990s.
On the paramount issue of population, policies that can make expansion attractive were regarded as essential in underpinning Australia's economic development. If reform agendas and regulatory reforms use appropriate structures and incentives, Australia could beneficially cater for 35-million, perhaps 50-million people by 2050. However this would require a reassessment of a wide range of institutional settings relating to infrastructure, retirement ages and labour markets, for example, which would all need to reflect longer working lives and life expectancy. While health care may be expensive and in need of reform, the extra years of active lives suggests investments in health care to be highly beneficial.