Technology | Innovation

CEDA CEO update: 22 February 2021

Facebook news ban puts public interest at the centre of tech debate and the World Competitiveness Yearbook survey opens for 2021, shares CEDA CEO Melinda Cilento in the update this week. 

It is great to be starting the week with some positive newswith Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout starting in earnest today. A rapid and widespread vaccination effort around the country will be crucial for business and community confidence this year and will help provide some certainty around state borders. As programs are rolled out around the world, it will also pave the way for the reopening of international borders. Ialso worth noting Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt’s comments today confirming Facebook’s ban on Australian news will not affect the vaccine rollout, and that official information on the vaccine is widely available through a range of sources including television, radio, newspapers and online. 

On that note, many of you will be aware that CEDA’s Facebook page was one of many non-news pages caught up in Facebook’s news ban. It is now back up and running, but you can also always find our news and insights on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter. 

The unilateral move by Facebook to block access to news content in Australia is yet another reminder of how important it is that technologies are designed, developed and used in the public interest. Following our inaugural CEDA Public Interest Technology Forum late last yearwe want to lead a national discussion on what public interest technology means in practice, and how to embed this approach in the development and use of emerging technologies. Our priorities include: the importance of digital ethics; regulation and regulatory frameworks for emerging tech; demystifying tech; and building awareness and capability around public interest. You can find out more about this program of work here 

These issues and more will of course be front of mind when ACCC Chair Rod Sims gives his annual ACCC enforcement and compliance policy update for 2021 tomorrow. I look forward to hearing what Rod has to say about Facebook’s move and the ACCC’s tech platform and competition agenda more broadly. This traditionally face-to-face only event will be accessible nationwide for the first time via livestream. You can still register for the livestream here. 

Meanwhile, late last week the Morrison Government announced the Productivity Commission would review Australia’s supply chain vulnerabilities and risks. While Australia’s supply chains proved largely resilient to COVID-19 shocks last year, the pandemic provided a stark reminder of our vulnerability to global supply chain disruptions. It is timely to take stock of how Australia remains resilient to future shocks. Our Chief Economist Jarrod Ball wrote a three-parseries of papers on this last year that remain highly relevant to these considerations. You can read them here.  

We will also engage with the Federal Parliamentary Inquiry into Australia's skilled migration program announced early this month. As many of you will know, migration is one of our key research areas, and we will be making submissions to the inquiry. I encourage any members who are having trouble finding the skilled workers they need to get in touch with us here so we can incorporate your experiences into our work, and to make a submission to the inquiry here.  

Finally, as the exclusive Australian partner for the World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY), CEDA is pleased to invite you to participate in the yearbook’s Executive Opinion Survey. To access the survey, click here. It is open until March 31. The World Competitiveness Yearbook will this year assess the performance of 64 economies based on more than 330 criteria, using both official statistics and data from the survey results. Last year Australia maintained its ranking of 18th out of 63 economies. 

The yearbook is the leading source of information on international competitiveness and economic efficiency and is produced by one of the world’s top business centres, the Switzerland based IMD World Competitiveness Centre. CEDA will distribute the results of the survey to members when the 2021 yearbook is released in June. I encourage all members to participate. Your responses contribute to the Australian assessment and ranking in the yearbook. It is crucial that we gauge how Australian businesses are faring as we recover from the COVID-19 recession, and how we compare with our international peers.  


As mentioned above, tomorrow CEDA welcomes ACCC Chairman Rod Sims as he outlines the competition regulator’s priorities for the year ahead in his annual ACCC enforcement and compliance policy update for 2021CEDA member Gilbert + Tobin is sponsoring this event. Registrations for the face-to-face event in Sydney are closed but you can still register for the livestream here. 

This Friday February 26, join us for the Lord Mayors’ panel – The future of Australian cities. We have confirmed an additional speakerCity of Hobart Lord Mayor, Anna Reynolds, who will join the Lord Mayors of Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide as they outline their plans to reactivate their economies and optimise their urban centres as they recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has turned many of the critical drivers of past city success –including immigration and the benefits of agglomeration – on their headThis event is supported by CEDA member Aurecon. Register to attend here. 

The final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is being released this Friday. Next month, on Friday March 12, Federal Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Senator Richard Colbeck, will join us to outline the Government’s response to the report and how it will improve aged-care services and outcomes. Supported by CEDA member Nous Group. Register to attend here. 

Further down the track, we are also taking registrations for face-to-face conversationWestern Sydney: what next for the aerotropolis?, in Parramatta on Tuesday March 30. Join NSW Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney, Stuart Ayres, to hear about the benefits of this city-shaping project. Thanks to Aurecon, EY and Westpac for sponsoring this event. Register to attend here.  


Weve just launched a new podcast called Policy Snacks, a series of bite-sized explainers about today’s big policy ideas and issues. In the first episode, our Chief Economist Jarrod Ball is joined by our Senior Economist Melissa Wilson to take a closer look at Australia's looming fiscal cliff, and what can be done to avoid going over it. Listen here.



This week’s opinion article comes from Infrastructure Australia (IA) Chief Executive Romilly Madew AO. Ahead of the release of IA’s 2021 Infrastructure Priority List this Fridayshe considers five trends shaping our infrastructure future. You can read that here.   


Thank you again to each of our renewing members this week.  

Renewing corporate members  

Queensland Treasury 

WA Department of Health 

Renewing business members 

F.A Pidgeon & Son 

Hilton, Adelaide 

Medtronic Australasia 

National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority 


We here in Melbourne are thrilled the snap lockdown ended as scheduled and hope the rest of the country is thriving as we return to normal.  

Stay well, 

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.;