National Economic Panel



ESA National Economic Panel Polls





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Author's Name: Matthew Butlin
Date: Tue 12 Feb 2019

Matthew Butlin

Dr Matthew Butlin

Matthew is currently the Chair and Chief Executive of the South Australian Productivity Commission since October 2018. He is also Senior Associate at ACIL Allen Consulting and an Honorary Enterprise Professor at Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, Melbourne University. Prior to his South Australian appointment Matthew was the Victorian Red Tape Commissioner and before that the Chair of Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission and a Commissioner of the Australian Productivity Commission. He has held senior executive roles in the private sector and the Commonwealth Public Sector. He is a graduate of the Australian National University and has a PhD in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Matthew was the President of ESA from 2013 – 2019 and is an Honorary Fellow of the Society.

Subject Area Expertise

Public policy, productivity, regulatory reform, governance, organisational design and economic history.



Responses (54)

Western Australian GST deal

Poll 63

April Poll - panellists were asked about the GST deal with Western Australia.  The following two questions were posed: 

"Is the long-standing arrangement broadly the best method of distributing the nationally-collected GST revenue?" and "Should the 2018 changes be kept or scrapped?"


YES - Moving back towards the longstanding arrangement is highly appropriate. WA has enjoyed a much stronger financial and budgetary position than other states since the deal was struck. This has been largely the result of high iron ore prices. A more equitable division of the GST revenue is needed. The Productivity Commission inquiry is essential.


Transition to net zero - ape the US Inflation Reduction Act?

Poll 62

Panellists were asked "Which of the options set out below best describes the kind of approach the Australian government should take to the US Inflation Reduction Act? (Pick 1)"


The payoff to clean-energy innovation has increased

Provide more grants to innovative firms across the entire economy

Reintroduction of the Carbon Price

Poll 61

Worried economists call for a carbon price, a tax on coal exports, and ‘green tariffs’ to get Australia on the path to net zero


Introduce an economy-wide cap and trade carbon price
Expedite building new transmission lines to connect renewable energy
Expedite investment in large battery storage

We can and should keep unemployment below 4%, says our survey of top economists

Poll 60

Australia’s leading economists believe Australia can sustain an unemployment rate as low as 3.75% – much lower than the latest Reserve Bank estimate of 4.25% and the Treasury’s latest estimate of 4.5%.


reducing taxes and regulations facing businesses, reducing out-of-pocket costs of childcare for families, improving the quality of primary and secondary education, running the economy "hot" for a period (i.e. through low interest rates) in order to give more potential workers some work experience, increase their employability in the long term


It makes little sense to me to define the NAIRU as a point estimate. A range - consistent with the approach to the inflation target - is far more practical from a policy perspective and gives the RBA constrained discretion to manage interest rates and related policy instruments.

Budget 2023

Poll 59

Our panellists were asked the following 2023 budget question: "On May 9, the government delivered a budget designed, in the Treasurer's words, to strike a balance between relief, repair and restraint'.  What grade would you give the budget, given that objective: A, B, C, D, E or F?"

Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND -


Overall rating: B - Keeping inflationary pressures in check: C


How economists would raise $20 billion per year

Poll 58

When panellests were asked to find an extra A$20 billion per year to fund government priorities like building nuclear submarines and responding to climate change, Australia’s top economists overwhelmingly back land tax, increased resource taxes, an attack on negative gearing and extending the scope of the goods and services tax.

Photo credit by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash


Efficiency picks: Introduce or increase land taxes (possibly with cut in stamp duty) Wind back the capital gains exemptions on the family home Broaden the set of goods and services captured by the GST Equity picks: Introduce inheritance taxes Wind back superannuation tax concessions Wind back the capital gains exemptions on the family home

Leading economists back Federal Government action to curb rising gas and electricity prices

Poll 57

Australia’s top economists have overwhelmingly endorsed intervention to restrain gas and electricity prices, with only three of the 47 leading economists surveyed believing the best thing the government can do is to leave things to the market.

Photo credit: Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND



Reserve domestic gas equivalent to 15% of LNG production from each LNG export project (ie making the

Is education or immigration the answer to our skills shortage? We asked 50 economists

Poll 56

Investing in Australians’ education is far more important than immigration in resolving the nation’s skills shortages, according to leading economists surveyed in the lead-up to this week’s jobs and skills summit.

The 50 top Australian economists polled by the Economic Society of Australia and The Conversation are recognised by their peers as leaders in their fields, including economic modelling, labour markets and public policy.

Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND


Migration policy Workforce participation Education and skills

Migration policy I see all three areas as very interrelated in a coherent strategy over the short (up to 2 years) medium (2-8 years) and long term (8+ years). Migration ameliorates immediate skill gaps (in conjunction with simplifying regulatory procedures and upping the staff in this area). It needs to link with a domestic skills agenda (again with simplified arrangements - realistically this is medium to long term) and measures to lift women?s labour force participation. For the latter, access to childcare and greater employment flexibility are key strategies.

'It’s important not to overreact’: Australia’s top economists on how to fix high inflation

Poll 55

Australia’s top economists are divided about how to tackle ballooning inflation of 6.1% that’s forecast to climb to a three-decade high of 7.75% by the end of the year.

Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND


Boost childcare subsidies Reserve a portion of gas and other commodities for domestic use Super profits tax on fossil fuel producers with revenue used to reduce cost of services Wind back government spending


Having begun my professional career (at the RBA) in 1975, l have experienced stagflation, high inflation and high unemployment, the low inflation stability of the past two decades and the enormous policy efforts to reform the economy and eliminate macro economic imbalances. Low inflation is a key element of a strong, sustainable economy, especially in the absence of institutional arrangements that protect savers. The focus for policy needs to be on building productivity and participation, eliminating macro imbalances in the medium term and moving quickly to low emissions. This is obviously not an agenda for monetary policy alone.

Intake of permanent migrants

Poll 52

"What do you think the intake of permanent migrants should be in coming years"

Australia’s leading economists have overwhelmingly endorsed a return to the highest immigration intake on record, saying Australia should aim for at least 190,000 migrants per year as it opens its borders, up from the target of 160,000 per year set ahead of COVID.

Photo credit "Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND"



Less than 160,000

Slower population growth will ease pressures on the environment, housing prices, the demand for infrastructure and reducing carbon emissions.

Top Economists see no prolonged high inflation, no rate hike next year (Q4)

Poll 51

Our panellists were asked whether rate hikes would be necessitated in the United States, Britain and Australia.

Despite appearances – especially in the United States – the era of high inflation isn’t set for a comeback in the view of Australia’s leading economists, and most see no need for the Reserve Bank to lift interest rates next year.

Question 4

"Following the next Federal election, the incoming Federal Government should commission an independent Review of the Reserve Bank of Australia."

Photo credit "Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND"



Top Economists see no prolonged high inflation, no rate hike next year (Q3)

Poll 51

Our panellists were asked whether rate hikes would be necessitated in the United States, Britain and Australia.

Despite appearances – especially in the United States – the era of high inflation isn’t set for a comeback in the view of Australia’s leading economists, and most see no need for the Reserve Bank to lift interest rates next year.

Question 3 

"The Reserve Bank has, over the past 5 years, effectively used the tools available to it to achieve its goals of "maintaining the stability of the currency, ensuring full employment and furthering the 'economic prosperity and welfare of the people of Australia'."

Photo credit "Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND"




Top Economists see no prolonged high inflation, no rate hike next year (Q2)

Poll 51

Our panellists were asked whether rate hikes would be necessitated in the United States, Britain and Australia.

Despite appearances – especially in the United States – the era of high inflation isn’t set for a comeback in the view of Australia’s leading economists, and most see no need for the Reserve Bank to lift interest rates next year.

Question 2

"When do you expect the Reserve Bank of Australia to next lift its cash rate?"

Photo credit "Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND"





Top Economists see no prolonged high inflation, no rate hike next year (Q1)

Poll 51

Our panellists were asked whether rate hikes would be necessitated in the United States, Britain and Australia.

Despite appearances – especially in the United States – the era of high inflation isn’t set for a comeback in the view of Australia’s leading economists, and most see no need for the Reserve Bank to lift interest rates next year.

Question 1

"The current combination of Australian fiscal and monetary policy poses a serious risk of prolonged above-target inflation."

Photo credit "Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND"




The Bank has been clear and consistent in its approach on the macro economy and its settings have been highly appropriate. The economy has had a huge stimulus from both fiscal and monetary policy that - in conjunction with similar international policies - is beginning to produce inflationary pressures especially in asset markets. The pressure on wages growth simply to recover the real value of wages, let alone increase their real value, will be significant. This risks a wage price spiral. The Bank is, in my view, going to need to lift interest rates in 2022.

Australia’s top economists back carbon price, say benefits of net-zero outweigh cost

Poll 50

Ahead of November’s Glasgow climate talks, our panellists were asked

"Australia would likely benefit overall from the national economy transitioning to net-zero emissions by 2050"

Photo credit "Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND"


An economy-wide carbon price (either via a cap-and-trade scheme or an emissions tax)


Promoting vaccination uptake in Australia

Poll 49

"What measures should Australian governments adopt to promote demand for vaccination once supply is no longer a constraint?"

Photo credit "Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND"


National advertising campaigns;Mandatory vaccination for higher risk occupations;Vaccine passports for higher-risk settings (eg. flights, restaurants, major events)

Policies to deliver higher wage growth

Poll 48

Our panellists were asked

"Higher wages growth is now a top priority of the RBA in its efforts to sustain stronger economic growth. Please identify the three of these government policies you think would best help deliver higher wages growth".  

Photo credit "Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND"



Measures to boost productivity growth;Measures to boost business investment;Cutting taxes in order t

Transition to electric cars

Poll 47

This month, our panellists were asked whether Australia should take action to speed the transition to electric cars.

"As part of efforts to reduce carbon emissions, Australian governments should take action to accelerate the take up, or take no action to accelerate the take up of electric cars"

Photo credit "Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND"


Subsidise the purchase of all all-electric cars, Subsidise public charging points for electric cars, Make charging points compulsory in new homes and new carparks


Currently electric cars appear to fit urban populations and dense traffic routes with relatively frequent stopping points. A significant part of Australia does not fit this, including long distance routes and hauling significant payloads (such as caravans and trailers to remote locations). Current technology has not yet solved this and seems unlikely to do in the next five years. (I hope to be surprised on the upside.) Once this problem is solved cost efficiently l support banning imports of petrol and diesel vehicles. But not until then.

The Federal Budget May 2021

Poll 46

"On May 11, the government delivered a budget designed, in the Treasurer's words, to 'secure Australia's economic recovery and build for the future'.  What grade would you give the budget given that objective, A, B, C, D, E, F?"

Photo credit Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND




For this stage of recovery, the macro picture is about right, especially with a push to lower the unemployment rate below 5 per cent and lift capacity utilisation in the economy. Employment is a key means of addressing poverty. That said, I would like to have seen more to address poverty- an increase in unemployment benefit and spending on low income housing. Overall a B++ from me.

Top economists want JobSeeker boosted by $100+ per week and tied to wages

Poll 44

"Ahead of a decision about any permanent increase expected early next year, The Conversation and the Economic Society of Australia asked 45 of Australia’s leading economists where they thought JobSeeker should settle."

Photo credit : Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND


Be indexed in line with wages

I would support an increase of around $100. The pre-COVID rate was far too low. Indexation with wages sets the relativity by reference to the labour market and also benefits from overall productivity gains.

October Budget 2020 - preferred four programs

Poll 42 

"The October budget will see the government announce additional policies to support recovery.  Please nominate the four programs you think would be the most effective (for an intervention of a given size) over the next two years"

Photo Credit: Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND 


One-off cash transfers to households, Permanently boosting JobSeeker (Newstart) beyond December 31, 2020, Infrastructure projects, Social housing

Given the large hit to higher education exports and its consequential impact on university own funding for research, I would also include a boost to research funding, with particular attention to competitive grants and translational research.

Does the budget rebuild our economy and create jobs?

Poll 43

"On 6 October, the Government delivered a budget designed, in the Treasurer's words, to 'rebuild our economy and create jobs'.  What grade would you give the budget given the objective?  A, B, C, D, E, F"

Photo Credit: Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND 



The legislated increases in compulsory super contributions should...

Poll 41

"The legislated increases in compulsory super contributions, which are set to climb from 9.5% of wages to 12% over the next five years should...."

Photo Credit: Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND 


Be deferred


Government Debt during the COVID19 Crisis

Poll 40

"Governments should provide ongoing fiscal support to boost aggregate demand during the economic crisis and recovery, even if it means a substantial increase in public debt"

Photo Credit: Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND 




Congestion pricing - November 2018


Strongly agree


US corporate tax cuts - March 2018

Poll 27

"The recent US corporate tax cuts will have no impact on investments in and capital flows into Australia."




The real question is not "yes or no" but "how much". The effect of the tax cuts will be to improve - in isolation and all other things being equal - the attractiveness of the US as an investment destination compared with all other jurisdictions. There is some debate about the size of the improvement in comparison with Australian tax rates and hence the size of the likely impact. That said, taxation treatment is only one aspect of the investment decision. There are typically many other considerations including the availability of necessary inputs, logistics, proximity to markets, unit costs of production and so on.

Australian Federal Budget 2018 - Reduce government debt or provide tax cuts? - April 2018

Poll 28

Proposition 1: "Slowing the growth in the debt to GDP ratio should be a priority for Australian governments."

Proposition 2: "Slowing the growth in the debt to GDP ratio is a higher priority than income or corporate tax cuts."


1 - Strongly agree

2 - Agree

Will building more homes make housing cheaper? - May 2018

Poll 29

"A sustained increase in the number of new homes constructed each year, all else equal, will make housing cheaper than otherwise."




Electric vehicles and road-use pricing - June 2018

Poll 30

"Pricing of road-use for electric vehicles should be the same as fossil fuel-powered vehicles."




It is unclear whether this question assumes the current framework of road use charges or an ideal road charging framework that addresses congestion, impact on road and other impacts on the asset and other road users related to the use of the road. I assume externalities beyond those applying to other road users - especially green house gas emissions - are dealt with through other means such as the pricing of fuel. On that basis the road charging regime should treat fossil fuel - powered and electric cars equally.

Royal Banking Commission (II) - February 2019

Poll 35

"There is no way to significantly increase the degree to which Australian retail banks act in the interests of consumers."




The incentive structures for bank staff, from the top down, play a key role in shaping behaviour. A more complete set of performance measures linked to remuneration that strongly penalises behaviour not in the consumer interest would provide stronger incentives for better behaviour, especially when linked with reliable information on non-compliance going to management and ultimately the bank board and a requirement for both to take action.

Waste Policy - August 2018

Poll 32

"There are clear net benefits for Australians from (further) increasing the diversion of waste from Australian landfills."


Uncertain (neither agree nor disagree)


The answer to this is highly location dependent.  And I assume diversion refers to recycling.  Where population densities are high, land is very scarce and there are public safety concerns from landfill, then the proposition is highly likely to be correct. But not where population density is low and land is scarce.

Banking Royal Commission and the Credit Crunch - October 2018

Poll 33

Proposition 1: "There is a significant risk that, either as a result of the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry or as a result of the financial institutions' response to those findings, credit will become less readily available to Australian households or businesses."

Proposition 2: "Assuming credit becomes less readily available to Australian households or businesses, this will in turn have adverse consequences for the performance of the Australian economy."


1 - Agree

2 - Strongly disagree

Gig economy and worker welfare - February 2018

Poll 26

"The wages and conditions of Australian workers providing services in sectors affected by the rapid growth of digital on-demand subcontracting platforms will, on average, be expected to fall without further government intervention."




Journalism as a public good - January 2018

Poll 25

Proposition 1: "The modern phenomena of information overload and social-media-fuelled 'fake news' bring into focus the value of quality journalism. Quality journalism has a public-good dimension that warrants public support."

Proposition 2: "The Australian government presently provides funding for the ABC and SBS, Australia's independent public broadcasters. The Australian government should increase its financial support of quality journalism."


1 - Agree

2 - Disagree

Same sex marriage - November 2017

Poll 24

"Assuming that the law will be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry in Australia, this will generate net economic benefits for the nation as a whole over the next 10 years."




Robots, artificial intelligence and the 'future of work' - October 2017

Poll 23

Question A: "Holding labor market institutions and job training fixed, rising use of robots and artificial intelligence is likely to increase substantially the number of workers in Australia who are unemployed for long periods."

Question B: "Rising use of robots and artificial intelligence in Australia is likely to create benefits large enough that they could be used to compensate those workers who are substantially negatively affected for their lost wages."


A - Uncertain

B - Agree

On the first question, robots have been a significant element of manufacturing for many years.  It is very likely robots and AI will displace many jobs.  Whether or not this translates into long term unemployment depends significantly on the existence of other concurrently growing areas of new jobs and also the capacity of the education and training systems (broadly defined) efficiently retrain and reskill displaced workers.  In short, having flexibility in skills formation is very important and is an essential part of structural adjustment.  
On the second question, historically deep structural changes driven by technological change (e.g. the industrial revolution in Britain) have had a net increase to income but the distributional consequences have been particularly adverse for some groups in the adjustment.

Public borrowing for infrastructure investment - September 2017

Poll 22

"As interest rates are at low levels by historical standards, federal and state governments, despite their public debt levels, should be borrowing more than they currently are to invest in infrastructure"




All other things being equal, there is scope for more investment in infrastructure. A key point is that such investment needs to demonstrate a robust benefit cost ratio well in excess of 1. It is my understanding that the analysis and ranking of potential infrastructure projects by Infrastructure Australia indicates such projects exist.

Does privatisation of human services hurt outcomes? - July 2017

Poll 20

"For-profit provision of human services like health and education leads to poor client outcomes and high costs to government."




Australia has successfully operated mixed provision (for profit and not for profit)of human services for many years - private schools and hospitals have been a feature of both education and health care. In either case - public or private provision - there can be incentives for inefficiency and cutting corners. As framed, I disagree with the proposition. Private provision does not necessarily and directly lead to worse outcomes - what is especially important is having well-designed incentives in the system that reinforce and reward good outcomes and penalise abuse and over servicing.

CGT deductions - March 2017

Poll 16

"Capital gains tax deductions for housing investment should be removed because they overstimulate the housing market, contributing to rising house prices."




In my view the case for increasing capital gains tax on investment in property is that by reducing returns to property investment it reduces speculative exuberance in the property market and moves closer to taxing the real return on property in a low inflation world.

Gender diversity in the workplace - role of government? - June 2017

Poll 19

"The recent Parliamentary Inquiry into "Gender segregation in the workplace and its impact on women's economic equality" was asked to examine measures to encourage women?s participation in male-dominated occupations and industries. Although there is growing awareness of the productivity gains of gender diversity, the private market alone is unlikely to steer the Australian labour market toward gender equality in male-dominated industries. Breaking down gender segregation in the labour market can only be achieved with some degree of government intervention."


Uncertain (neither agree nor disagree)


I have a problem with how the question is formulated. It is not clear what "breaking down gender segregation" means, although the implication seems to be gender equality. I note there are notable examples of corporations and businesses that have expressly set out to break down internal labour market barriers / gender segregation within their organisations. That has been done - as far as I am aware - as a matter of enlightened self-interest and organisational values / principles rather than as a result of government intervention. I also note the strong support (starting from the top) the Economic Society is giving to enhancing the standing of women in the economics profession through the Women in Economics Network. As a matter of leadership, governments can and should emphasise merit as a key principle in labour markets. There is a government role to identify and remove regulatory barriers that prevent or diminish the effect of that principle, especially in relation to women.

Economics teaching - micro before macro - February 2017

Poll 15

"It is more effective to teach an introductory course in micro-economics first before an introductory course in macro-economics."




On balance, I believe it is more effective to teach macro-economics first, provided it is well-motivated in terms of its connection to real economic issues.  However, I note that I am not in the business of teaching economics although I do the odd guest lecture that undoubtedly sits in the general area of micro economics.

Australian Federal Budget 2017 - Outsourcing Economic Forecasting - May 2017

Poll 18

"Given the Commonwealth Treasury?s ongoing difficulty in making accurate forecasts of some of the key economic variables underpinning the Budget ? in particular nominal GDP growth ? the Government should ?outsource? the economic forecasts used in framing the Budget to an independent agency (such as the Parliamentary Budget Office), as now happens in the United Kingdom."


Strongly disagree


The Treasury is the government's chief adviser within the official family and draws on expertise and information from the RBA, ATO, Department of Finance and so on that is not available to external forecasters. In addition it has acces to the array of published forecasts of private providers. It is highly appropriate that the Treasury is accountable for the economic forecasts used in the budget, and that it has the expertise to do it as well as reasonably possible. That said, it would be useful to include a sensitivity analysis in the forecast to key assumptions (eg commodity prices, exchange rates, international events and so on) and a comparison with contemporaneous private sector forecasts.

Immigration - November 2016

Poll 12

'The total benefit of current levels* of migration to Australia will outweigh the total costs to Australia's economy'.




The time-frame for this net benefit depends on the composition of the immigrant population, including the demographic and skills make up of the intake.  Historically Australia has benefited from migration being a significant component of the population increase but it has required significant investment in infrastructure and government services.

Energy shortages - reserving Australian gas - April 2017

Poll 17

"In response to energy shortages around Australia, government policies requiring gas producers to reserve some production for domestic consumption are a good way to ensure that Australian consumers have access to sufficient gas supplies while still allowing for gas exports."


Uncertain (neither agree nor disagree)


Ultimately economic efficiency is served by pricing the gas at its opportunity cost - the international price. Currently the internal price is said to be above this level driven by an excess domestic demand over available domestic supply arguably due to a downward spike in supply - indicating a significant inefficiency. Reservations coupled with a tax to achieve the international price for gas is an option.

Part 1: 'Behavioural economics provides new and useful insights into individual behaviour.' Part 2: 'It is unethical for governments to use behavioural economics to

The total benefit of current levels* of migration to Australia will outweigh the total costs to Australia's economy.




Behavioural economics - September 2016

Poll 11

Part 1: 'Behavioural economics provides new and useful insights into individual behaviour.'

Part 2: 'It is unethical for governments to use behavioural economics to "nudge" citizens.'


PART 1 - Agree


I am OK about nudging providing governments explain to the electorate what they are doing and why. My answer changes significantly to oppose nudging if the manipulation is either covert and/or the policy matter is ethically dubious.

PART 2 - Agree


I am OK about nudging providing governments explain to the electorate what they are doing and why. My answer changes significantly to oppose nudging if the manipulation is either covert and/or the policy matter is ethically dubious.

RBA economic growth targets - August 2016

Poll 10

"The Reserve Bank of Australia should be tasked with targeting nominal economic growth rather than inflation."


Strongly disagree


In my view this is question of the right assignment of policy instruments.  Monetary and fiscal policy both have important (separate) roles in macro-economic management, with monetary policy most appropriately assigned to inflation, not inflation and real growth together.  This assignment is not without absolute qualification - performance against an inflation target range should also have regard to key real economy indicators such as the rate of unemployment.

The Brexit - impact on UK citizens - July 2016

Poll 9

"Assuming it is implemented, Brexit will deliver net economic benefits, on average, to UK citizens within its first 5 years."


Uncertain (neither agree nor disagree)


Spend on education or business tax cut - June 2016

Poll 8

"Australia will receive a bigger economic growth dividend in the long-run by spending on education than offering an equivalent amount of money on a tax cut to business."




China services boom for Australia? - April 2016

Poll 6

"As the Chinese economy makes its transition from investment-led to consumption led growth, the Australian service sector which currently accounts for around 20% of total exports, will produce a second 'Chinese economic windfall' for Australians."




Windfall is too strong. That the growing market and its proximity (location and timezone) creates (and has created) opportunities is without doubt. But there should be no presumption of an opportunity that is easily won, and Australian services businesses will have to craft offerings that are appropriate to the Chinese marketplace, including having regard to the different institutional arrangements that apply between the countries.

Efficiency of tax incentives - February 2016

Poll 4

"New tax incentives for investments in technology and innovation businesses and start-ups are likely to be inefficient."


Uncertain (neither agree nor disagree)


The answer depends on the design of the incentive, the stage of the business and the other necessary elements for successful start ups. The availability of finance, access to technical skills and capacity, level of managerial capability, access to markets and the profitability of the business are all critical considerations. A policy based solely on tax incentives is likely to be far less successful (and hence inefficient) if it does not also address these other elements.

Bah Humbug Australia - December 2015

Poll 3

"Giving specific presents as holiday gifts is inefficient, because recipients could satisfy their preferences much better with cash."




This question oversimplifies. Specifically it does not come to grips with the all important interpersonal dimensions of gift giving and receiving, especially the key question of how much effort went into the choice of gifts for (say) a significant other. If the recipient's (significant other's) utility function also incorporated a perception of how much time, and insight went into the choice of gift then problem is more complex. Cash ranks high on flexibility but low on perceived effort, while a specific gift may not be the optimum gift but may rate highly on perceived consideration, effort and valuation of the recipient by the giver. The two dimensional problem is more challenging and real!

Penalty Rates Reform - November 2015

Poll 2

"Aligning Sunday penalty rates for hospitality, entertainment and retailing industries with the current levels for Saturday, as proposed in the Productivity Commission's draft report, will lead to more employment and greater availability of services in these industries on Sundays."


Strongly agree


This change will make employment profitable to a service provider at lower levels of demand for the service provided - for example meals and personal services covered by the current structure of penalty rates. All things being equal, this would increase the supply of services in areas where current levels of demand are below what is currently required to make the service profitable as well as areas where there is currently high demand. This could be expected to favour non-metropolitan areas disproportionately - that is, to increase the choices to consumers in those areas in particular.