This is the first document of its kind from the
[group of ten frustrated & disillusioned economists] Productivity Commission — a look out across the landscape of factors and influences that may affect Australia’s economic performance over the medium term [Five years +], in order to offer advice on where our [Australia’s] priorities should lie if we are to enhance national welfare. Radical huh?
Consider the average news cycle and what Government Ministers and their Opposition choose to highlight on any given day/week, then consider a few of these key organising thoughts:
- Mediocrity beckons if we let it
- In the future, we cannot rely on high commodity prices or, given an ageing Australia, labour participation rates, to drive national income.
- That means that innovation and learning — doing things better — is the key for prosperity. Yet this has languished in Australia (and many other countries) for a decade.
- A new agenda focused on individuals
- new agendas involving the non market economy (mainly education and healthcare), the innovation system, using data, creating well-functioning cities, and re-building confidence in institutions. And no one wants clogged cities or arteries.
- Better health care creates no losers
- Australia is beset by a rising wave of complex chronic health conditions that will lead to many years of life spent in ill health, lower involvement in work and rising costs for the health care system. Suppliers rather than patients are the centre of the current system — an anachronism built on paternalism.
- Reform of Australia’s health care system will not just be better for patients, but may save up to $140 billion over the next 20 years.
- Australia’s education system is a mixed bag of excellence and mediocrity
- Slipping school results and concerns about teaching quality raise questions about how Australians will adapt to the wave of changes in the economy over the coming decades.
The vocational education and training system is in disarray.
- Better teaching quality, re-building the VET sector, genuine options for acquiring new skills as people switch jobs and careers, using new technological models for educating people, and creating teaching-only universities are just a few of the many changes that need to be made.
- Excising Utopia from Australia’s city policies
- Australian cities are under pressure — rising population and congestion, poor infrastructure decisions, ad hoc and anticompetitive planning and zoning, and an unsustainable funding basis for roads.
- There are good models of zoning and planning that could readily be adopted, and infrastructure decisions could be enhanced by taking out the ‘Utopia’ factor in their preparation.
- Cooperative reform is still possible [Really? A commonweal? – Ed]
- While Australians’ trust in governments and their institutions is low and fragile, there are practical things that can be done to make governments work better.
- The scope for the vital big reforms will require commitment to a joint reform agenda by all jurisdictions. This should be negotiated in 2018, collecting all ideas into a cohesive whole. [Let’s watch for this!!!]
Perhaps best of all, the Productivity Commission provides some easily digestible “factoids” to focus one’s attention in the midst of hyperbole, obfuscation and yes, dare I say it, what appear increasingly as “alternative facts“.
On top of this, they actually provide coherent and reasoned recommendation of WHAT needs changing and HOW to change things.
Some Factoids for you:
- From 2003-04 to 2015-16, the gains to market sector GDP from ‘doing things better’ have been nearly zero (p. 33)
- The ‘non-market’ sector (including health care and social services, education and training, and public administration and safety) accounts for 27% of employment in Australia (p. 192)
- More than 10 million Australians have three or more long-term conditions (SP4, p. 10)
- Years of life spent in ill-health are nearly 11 years — highest in the OECD (p. 45)
- 4.9 million adults (nearly 30% of the adult population) are obese (p. 45)
- 40% of people with a health-related qualification have inadequate health literacy (p. 65)
- The share of Australians with poorest maths skills has risen the most among OECD countries 2003-2015 (p. 31)
- An Australian 15 year old in 2015 had a mathematical literacy equivalent to a 14 year old in 2000 (p. 89)
- About 30% of year 7 to 10 teachers in information technology have no real qualification in that field (p. 90)
- One in five university graduates were underemployed in 2016 compared with 9 per cent in 2008 (p. 103)
- Outstanding HELP debt has risen from $12.4 billion in 2006 to nearly $50 billion in 2016 (p. 110)
- 40% of Australia’s GDP is produced in Sydney and Melbourne (p. 123) [read that twice…]
- In 2015, Melbourne grew by more people every five days than Hobart added in the entire year (p. 124)
- Stamp duties add over $50,000 to the cost of a median-priced house in Sydney, penalising people and businesses that move and discouraging others who want to move. For every dollar raised in stamp duties, the cost to Australians in reduced investment and mobility is 70 cents (p. 149)
You get the point…
This report was sent to Government on 3 August 2017, then tabled in Parliament and publicly released on 24 October 2017.
It may have got lost towards the end of the year, but worth considering again in the beginning of 2018. Agree or disagree is not really the point. READ the thing and have an opinion.
- Shifting the Dial – Read the report online
- Shifting the Dial – Download the report [PDF]
- Smart Cities Expo in Melbourne
- Policymaking. A Crisis of Expertise?