National Economic Panel



ESA National Economic Panel Polls





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Author's Name: Peter Sheehan
Date: Tue 12 Feb 2019

Peter Sheehan

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Professor Peter Sheehan

Professor Sheehan has made a substantial contribution since 1994 to studies of the global knowledge economy, and of its Australian and international ramifications. For over two decades he has contributed to the analysis of new technologies and their application in Australia, and to policy and commercial developments, related to the commercialisation of such technologies in Australia.

From 1987 to the late 1990s he was actively involved, as Chairman or Director, in a number of technology-based companies, many of which he was instrumental in establishing during his time in government.

For example, from 1987 to 1993 he was a Director of Australian Medical Research and Development Consortium Ltd (AMRAD) a company with a diversified ownership established to commercialise Australian medical research. In 1988 AMRAD entered into a joint venture with Merck, Sharpe and Dohme to establish a 50/50 joint venture, AMRAD Pharmaceuticals.

In August 2003 he was elected to the position of Academic Co-Chair, APEC Life Sciences Innovation Forum (LSIF) which is chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand. The Industry Co-Chair is Dr Fikry Isaac, CMO of Wellness and Prevention at Johnson & Johnson. The establishment of the group is an initiative of President Fox of Mexico and is strongly supported by health, economic and research agencies of the 21 APEC economies and industry.



Responses (8)

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 only the purchase of non-luxury all-electric cars, Subsidise public charging points for electric cars, Set a date to ban the import of petrol and diesel cars


While much progress is being made in reducing emissions in key sectors such as electricity. Australia's performance with transport emissions remains poor. Even after the reduction in transport activity and emission in 2020, due to COVID-19, CO2 emissions from transport in 2020 were 43% higher over that in 1990, having risen steadily over that time to 2019. This is especially concerning given that Australia now manufactures no motor vehicles but has skills relevant to various types of electric vehicles. We should take carefully considered measures to stimulate the use of EVs and to facilitate creation of charging infrastructure, but this should be in the context of a broader policy, badly lacking over the past decade, to make our vehicle fleet more efficient and less polluting.

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 budget fails to provide any real analysis of the COVID-19 recession which it seeks to address. As a result, its key measures do not address the specific character of this recession (in which demand is constrained by restrictions rather than by income) nor the groups most affected by it (eg service industries, part-time and casual workers, young people and older workers, temporary residents). Thus while the budget is a big spending one, which will certainly stimulate demand, many of its programs will be ineffective in its central goal of creating jobs. The tax cuts will primarily benefit full-time workers and will be largely saved, given that aggregate household income is strong after the JobSeeker and other programs. The instant write-off of depreciation will generate more imports but few new jobs, and support many investments that would have taken place anyway. While the enhanced apprentice wage subsidy is welcome, the JobMaker hiring credit may create problems for those outside the specified age group. In my view the budget is a wasted opportunity to address the real impacts of the COVID-19 recession, and to assist those most heavily affected by it.

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, Wage subsidies or hiring bonuses (beyond JobKeeper), Infrastructure projects, Social housing

Assuming that the nation moves to 'COVID normal' by the end of 2020 and that the JobKeeper program is terminated at the end of March 2021, my judgement is that the main constraints on the recovery will be demand and the household income to support that demand. Hence I support measures with a fairly immediate impact on demand (social housing, one-off payments to households, wage subsidies and infrastructure) which don't have a long term cost to the budget. Measures with delayed effects on demand but long term budget cost (personal or corporate income tax cuts or an expanded investment allowance) should be avoided. The shift to renewable energy and cleaner fossil fuels is being driven by technology change and the market, and does not need further incentives). Many of the other measures are highly desirable, but not top priority for the economic recovery.

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 


Proceed as planned


This is a fundamental long run change that should continue to be implemented, and not deferred or abandoned because of changing circumstances. With the serious decline in housing ownership among younger Australia's, together with economic trends favouring older rather than younger people, many now below 45 years facing daunting problems post retirement, with no housing assets and limited super. The steady move to 12% is important.

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."




2016 US Election - November 2016

Poll 13

"Hillary Clinton is likely to be the superior US presidential candidate for the Australian economy and for Australia."


Strongly agree


Efficiency of tax Government investments in major sporting events - February/March 2016

Poll 5

"Government investments in major sporting events usually generate net benefits for the city or region where the investment is made."


Uncertain (neither agree nor disagree)


It is not possible to answer this question for sporting events in general. In Melbourne, for example, the investment in the Tennis Centre has generated massive net benefits, but it is doubtful whether there have been net benefits from the investment in the Grand Prix. It is the characteristics of the individual investment, and the spillover benefits that it generates, that matter, not whether or not it is a sporting event.

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."




The more interesting question is whether this change produces a net benefit to society, and whether the benefits to some outweigh the costs to others.