CEDA CEO update: 15 June 2020

CEDA CEO Melinda Cilento wraps up day one of State of the Nation and provides an update on the week ahead at CEDA.

My message this week is coming to you from Canberra as we complete day one of CEDA’s annual State of the Nation (SoN) Conference.

While this year’s conference is digital, with more than 2800 people tuning in this morning, I was lucky enough to be able to hear from and speak with the Prime Minister, the Hon. Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader, the Hon. Anthony Albanese face-to-face, albeit at a safe distance.

The Prime Minister kicked off our conference, and as many of you would have seen in the media today, announced a significant infrastructure spend and spoke about how we transition the focus from near-term economic stability to longer-term economic growth. The commitments on infrastructure spending are welcome as they offer opportunity for near term jobs through ‘shovel ready’ projects, while also laying the foundations for longer term productivity improvements.

Notwithstanding improving confidence and great relief regarding how well Australia has managed the pandemic, it is clear that unemployment remains front and centre for the government. The Prime Minister noted that we had lost something like 30 months of average jobs growth in the month of April – a sombre reminder of the challenges ahead. The Prime Minster also highlighted the government’s keen focus on youth and female unemployment when addressing your questions and concerns regarding these groups.

You can access a summary here, and video of the Prime Minister’s speech here.

Following the Prime Minister’s speech, we also heard from Federal Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Anthony Albanese. Top of mind for the Labor Leader were the issues of social housing, essential services and service workers, productivity, the role of science and R&D, and of course the labour market outlook. While releasing his formal speech, the Opposition Leader also addressed the many questions that we received online through our pigeonhole app. A big thank you to our members and audience for engaging in the conversation.

You can read his formal speech here or watch the discussion here .

In addition to the PM and Labor Leader, we also heard from the Victorian and NSW Treasurers and the ACT Chief Minister, who together provided a state and territory economic outlook and examined the opportunities that can come from deeper national cooperation. This session was hosted by CEDA’s Chairman, Diane Smith-Gander AO and you can read more here.

In the final session I had the pleasure of hosting a panel discussion with AlphaBeta Director, Dr Andrew Charlton; CEDA Board Member, Dr Gordon de Brouwer PSM; and RBC Capital Markets Managing Director and Head of AU/NZ Economics & Fixed Income Strategy, Su-Lin Ong. We had a wide-ranging discussion touching on opportunities from deregulation and streamlining of environmental assessment and approvals currently on the table; how the national cabinet will operate in the months and years ahead and avoiding the pitfalls of COAG; to how we get jobs growth going and the opportunity for digitisation to deliver growth and productivity in the same way globalisation has in the last 30 years.

This year we have also been running online polls during presentations. When asked to rank the most critical issues for Australia’s future from today’s discussions, the effects of the recession on women and young people was overwhelmingly the top response, followed by increasing productivity and strengthening Federal-State relations.

On the question of whether Federal-State relations can thrive post pandemic, the audience was more divided, with 28.6 responding yes, 46 per cent unsure and 25.4 per cent responding no.

Another new feature of this year’s conference has been live scribes of each session completed by forum sponsor KMPG. They are well worth checking out here.

More generally, I would like to thank all of our State of the Nation sponsors for this year – KPMG, NBN Co and Stellar.

I hope you tune in for day two tomorrow, from 9am to 1pm. If you haven’t already you can still register here. We have a busy program of activity with a series of panel discussions on four areas that sit at the core of Australia’s recovery: supply chains; workforce; critical services; and at-risk communities.

Speakers include Austrade Chief Executive Officer, Dr Stephanie Fahey; Australasian Supply Chain Institute Chair, Alexandra Riha; Australian Council of Trade Unions Secretary, Sally McManus; Federal Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations, the Hon. Christian Porter; and Programmed Group Managing Director and Group Chief Executive Officer, Glenn Thompson.

In addition to State of the Nation we also have an event on Thursday 18 June on Australia’s competitiveness in economic recovery, building on some of the themes discussed today and tomorrow at State of the Nation.

Many of you would know that CEDA is the Australian partner for the IMD World Competitiveness Rankings, which will be released globally tomorrow evening. I will be sharing these results with members tomorrow and they will underpin the livestream discussion on Thursday, which will include insights from Swiss-based Professor Arturo Bris, Director of the IMD World Competitiveness Centre, on Australia’s results, how they fit into the global landscape and how we are faring compared to our Asia Pacific neighbours. More on that here.

Speakers on the day include:  
  • International Institute for Management Development World Competitiveness Centre, Director and Professor of Finance, Arturo Bris
  • Asialink, Group Chief Executive Officer, Penny Burtt
  • CEDA, Chief Economist, Jarrod Ball
You can register for that event here.

Coming up next week is our National economic outlook on Tuesday 23 June. Join Westpac Chief Economist, Bill Evans and myself as we discuss the latest analysis and forecasts for the national economy. You can register here.

Also next week we have: The future of financial services on Thursday 25 June, with Australian Banking Association CEO, the Hon. Anna Bligh AC and The University of Queensland Professor of Management, Professor Nicole Gillespie.

You can register for that event here.

Resetting Federation for recovery and reform on Friday 26 June. As part of CEDA’s recovery series, Coming back better, we will explore the lessons and successes from the way Federal-State relations have been conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic and how this could be used to advance key policy issues in the future. Speakers include former Premier of Victoria, the Hon. John Brumby AO and Griffith University, Policy Innovation Hub, Principal Research Fellow, Jennifer Menzies.

You can register for that event here.

As you can see the team and I are not pausing for breath. Tickets for these online events are free to CEDA members, with low cost tickets available to non-members. You can also catch up with CEDA’s livestreams on demand on the video archive page of the website.

Read: On the blog this week, How behavioural science can inform COVID-19 policy. Monash Sustainable Development Institute Enterprise, BehaviourWorks Australia, Director, Professor Liam Smith, writes that the insights of behavioural science can improve decision making and public policy in crisis situations. You can find out more here.

Listen: This week on The lowdown podcast, experienced non-executive director Jacqui Walters talks with CEDA State Director, Queensland, Kyl Murphy, about how boards are rethinking strategy while balancing the demands of compliance and change. Jacqui is an experienced senior executive and non-executive director who has worked across many industries. You can hear more here.

And finally, thank you to our new and renewing members this week:

New state members
Blacktown City Council (NSW)
Infoxchange (VIC)

Renewing state members
British Consulate-General (VIC)
HSBC Bank Australia (SA)
Hudson (VIC)
Insurance Commission of Western Australia (WA)
People's Choice Credit Union (SA)
Queensland Department of Housing and Public Works (QLD)
Smarketer (VIC)
TasNetworks (TAS)
WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (VIC)
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (VIC)

I hope you can join us for day two of State of the Nation as we continue to examine what the critical policy priorities are for Australia’s future and explore how we can stabilise the economy and rebuild economic activity. Thanks again for your interest in and support for CEDA.

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.;