When businesses started laying workers off in droves last year, people across the world were frightened about whether they could pay their bills or if they would even have a roof above their heads. Australians were no exception.
As the world went into lockdown, economies suffered sharp contractions and millions of people across the world lost their jobs. Looking back on the last twelve years, a strong correlation has been found between economic damage and how badly the pandemic takes hold.
This has put Australia in a very fortunate and rare category. It places us as a nation that hasn’t endured the economic havoc or collective grief of a pandemic where in countries such as Italy, Brazil and Hungary more than 1 in 500 people have died from COVID-19
Instead of having to support a community through tremendous grief, the pandemic has provided Australia with an opportunity to consider how we treat one another as a community and what sort of economy we participate in.
During the course of the pandemic, and enduring the initial economic fear, Australia experimented with a national living wage and universal (i.e. completely subsidised) childcare. Minor revolutions in policy terms, even if they were short-lived. And while political debate has slipped back to its uninspiring best, there are enough economists and commentators out there still encouraging different and bigger thinking.
On this edition of Imagining Australia, we do exactly that, and ask ‘what does a thriving economy look like in 2031?’:
The starting point for this episode is that an economy should be assessed by the experiences of those who participate with it. Speaking with some of Australia’s leading economists, my guests encourage me to look beyond the top-line figures that place Australia as the second wealthiest country on the planet and consider the challenging realities that affect different groups in the community.
From an international perspective, it’s possible to argue that Australia’s economy is already thriving. For a country with the world’s 60th largest population, it has the world’s 13th largest GDP – a sign of massive economic activity.
Yet, how does a country that has an average wealth of half a million dollars per adult also have 13.6% of the population living below the poverty line?
In unravelling this contrast, I make the case that in 2031 a thriving economy is one where the well-being of the community is at the heart of planning and decision making. Whether we get there is another question all together.
Evan Wallace – www.evanwallacetalks.com
Matt Grundoff – Senior Economist, The Australia Institute
Emma Dawson – Executive Director, Per Capita
Ross Lambie – Chief Economist, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
deliBass – https://delibass.bandcamp.com
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