CEDA CEO update: 26 October 2020

CEDA CEO, Melinda Cilento, takes stock of a remarkable year, as Victoria gets ready to re-open.

This week, CEDA is taking stock of a year that has been difficult for many, ourselves included, with the release of our 2019-20 Annual Report. It's a detailed look at how CEDA has managed this period, summarising how we tackled the challenges and opportunities of the COVID-19 pandemic and recession, and the path forward. It also offers some perspective on how we are faring from our chairman Diane Smith-Gander.

On this note, I would like to thank the CEDA board for the support provided to the team and I throughout the year, including as we undertook a significant restructure of our organisation. Read the full 2019-20 Annual Report here.

To round out this unusual year, we will be hosting our first virtual Annual General Meeting on Monday 16 November. AGM notices were sent earlier today, and I encourage trustees to submit their proxies. Later that day, we will hold our Annual Dinner, and we are delighted to welcome back Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Governor Philip Lowe to deliver the 2020 Annual Dinner address. There are growing expectations the RBA might cut the official interest rate next week, on Melbourne Cup day. The Annual Dinner will be one of the first opportunities to hear directly from the Governor about the Reserve Bank’s assessment of the economic outlook after that meeting. This will be our second hybrid event in Sydney, mixing both a face-to-face event with a livestream of the Governor’s address. Register to attend the dinner here.

For those who can't be there in person, get your popcorn ready and register for the livestream here.

As we start to regain momentum in our face-to-face events, it is great to see more support for business conferences and events from Business Events Sydney, backed by the NSW Government and that state’s tourism industry, after restrictions were eased on the number of attendees at corporate events last week. We are looking forward to more events there in the future.

For now though, Western Australia is the focus of our face-to-face events. I’m thrilled to announce our Women in Leadership event in Perth tomorrow has sold out, showing there is a real appetite for public events in the West. On Friday, we’ll hear from WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt in our public event, Western Australia's economic recovery. Register here.

On the research front, later this week we will publish a new paper evaluating the effectiveness of housing stimulus during economic crises. The paper is titled Home truths: The role of housing in economic recovery, and is written by Curtin University School of Economics, Finance and Property Professor Rachel Ong ViforJ and University of Adelaide Centre for Housing, Urban and Regional Planning Director, Professor Chris Leishman. There are well-known macroeconomic arguments for targeting home building in any stimulus package, but there are also unintended consequences to such large-scale policy measures. Keep an eye out for this timely report.

I am also pleased to note that we have reached 10,000 listens to our podcasts. We launched our podcast series The greater good and The economists’ corner in March as the pandemic took hold. I hope you find them valuable. I have certainly enjoyed participating in many and varied conversations with some interesting and incredible people, all of whom have enthusiastically supported CEDA’s efforts to contribute to discussions critical to Australia’s economic and social development. You can find all of our podcasts here.  

Finally, we welcome (I might even be celebrating just a bit…) Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ announcement today that Melbourne retail and hospitality venues will be able to open from midnight tomorrow night after the latest test results from the city’s northern suburbs were negative. From 11.59pm on Tuesday 26 October, all retail, cafes, hotels and bars will reopen, with hospitality venues allowed to seat a maximum of 20 people indoors, while a maximum of 50 people will be allowed to sit outdoors as long as social distancing guidelines are followed. With the case numbers better than expected, it is fantastic to see the hard work of the Victorian community in following the guidelines has paid off.

As Victoria emerges from its second wave, COVID complacency will be public enemy number one. If we are to open borders, cities and workplaces while avoiding large-scale outbreaks and further lockdowns, leaders around the country need a detailed strategy to stay COVID-safe in 2021. CEDA Chief Economist Jarrod Ball has written a blog post touching on this point, as part of a broader look at how to repair the fractured National Cabinet. Read it here.

As noted above, this week join West Australian Treasurer Ben Wyatt on Friday 30 October for Western Australia's economic recovery, as he outlines his priorities, plans and policies for his state’s recovery after handing down his budget earlier this month. Successful recovery will require a focus on job creation, restoring business and consumer confidence and programs to support key sectors, regions and those parts of society hardest hit by COVID-19. He’ll be joined by CEDA National Chairman, Diane Smith-Gander. Register here.

The states remain in focus next week, as CEDA welcomes members and guests from across the country to hear NSW Premier, the Hon. Gladys Berejiklian, deliver the 2020 State of the State address on Thursday 5 November. NSW is a half a trillion-dollar economy. Its ability to navigate and recover from the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic has implications for the future of the state and national economy. In her address, the Premier will outline the Government’s forward agenda, its policy priorities, investment and spending and future plans. Register here.

Then attentions turn overseas for our interactive livestream 2020 US election - what the outcome means for Australia on Friday 6 November. Hear expert advice on how Australia can successfully navigate a second-term Trump presidency or a change in government in the United States. Speakers include: Asialink Chief Executive, Penny Burtt; S&P Global Ratings Global Chief Economist, Paul Gruenwald; United States Studies Centre Chief Executive, Professor Simon Jackman; and Austrade Deputy Chief Executive Global Client Services, Sally-Ann Watts. Register here.

In the latest episode of our podcast series The Greater Good, I joined former CEDA chief executive Professor John Nieuwenhuysen AM and former research director Professor Neil Warren to mark the 60th anniversary of CEDA's inaugural meeting, on October 21, 1960. We had a wide-ranging conversation about the work they did and how it helped shape the CEDA of today. Listen here.
As mentioned above, this week on the blog, Chief Economist Jarrod Ball writes that we must maintain a strong and effective federation if we are to make the changes required to drive economic recovery. Read that here.

Also on the blog this week, Regional Australia Institute Chief Executive, Liz Ritchie writes about how COVID-19 has affected the regions. She argues we need to take a case-by-case approach to recovery that leverages the rise in regional migration. Read that here.

A special call out to our new national member LinkedIn, and our new state member in New South Wales, Health Justice Australia. It is great to welcome you both to the CEDA community.

And thank you again to our renewing members this week.

New national member
LinkedIn (National)

New state member
Health Justice Australia (NSW)

Renewing state members
AirBnB Australia (NSW)
Data#3 (QLD)
Griffith University (QLD)
Infrastructure NSW (NSW)
Nomura (NSW)
Renewal SA (SA)
Townsville Enterprise (QLD)
Tri-Star Petroleum Company (QLD)
WA Department of Finance (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.;