National Economic Panel



ESA National Economic Panel Polls





Got an Idea?

Author's Name: Lisa Cameron
Date: Tue 12 Feb 2019

Lisa Cameron

Professor Lisa Cameron

Lisa Cameron is a Professorial Research Fellow at the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research at the University of Melbourne. She is an empirical micro-economist whose research incorporates the techniques of experimental and behavioural economics so as to better understand human decision-making. Much of her research focuses on policy evaluation - understanding the impacts and behavioural implications of public policy, with a focus on social and economic issues. She is particularly interested in the welfare of disadvantaged and marginalised groups and the socio-economic determinants of health in Australia and Asia - particularly Indonesia and China. She has extensive experience collaborating with agencies such as the World Bank and DFAT (formerly AusAID). She has been a member of the Editorial Board of Australia’s leading economic journal, the Economic Record. She is an Affiliated Professor at J-PAL, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s Poverty Action Lab. She holds a Phd in economics from Princeton University and was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences in 2013.

Subject Area Expertise

Microeconomics, development economics; human capital – health, education and labour economics; experimental and behavioural economics.



Responses (49)

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


Expedite building new transmission lines to connect renewable energy
Introduce an economy-wide cap and trade carbon price | Expand the safeguard mechanism to cover more facilities to mimic a broader carbon price

Expanding Australia's carbon price mechanism to most of the economy, alongside the construction of new transmission lines that provide reliable access to renewable power is essential for de-carbonisation to advance at a sufficient rate for Australia to meet net zero in 2050. A price on carbon is an efficient, overarching mechanism via which to provide greater incentives for industry and households to reduce their carbon emissions. A serious carbon price applied to most of the economy will reduce demand for coal and gas-sourced power. New transmission lines are needed to connect renewable energy to the grid and so allow industry and households to substitute renewable energy sources for these old energy sources. This switch of power sources will result in de-carbonisation with minimal impacts on economic growth and living standards.

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: Tax windfall profits Wind back deductions for negatively geared properties Wind back superannuation tax concessions Equity picks: Wind back superannuation tax concessions Introduce inheritance taxes Wind back deductions for negatively geared properties

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



Increase taxation of resource rents for gas producers and use proceeds to reduce electricity and gas

Increasing the taxation of resource rents for gas producers and using these resources to compensate lower income consumers for higher energy prices has the advantage of being less distortionary than many of the other options and less costly for the budget. Further, compensation/subsidies can be targeted to those who need them most rather than benefitting those who are well-able to afford higher energy prices. In the longer term, policies such as reserving gas for domestic use may be an effective approach for protecting Australian consumers (and businesses) from price hikes but in the shorter term it likely involves the breaking of international contracts with negative consequences for our relationships with countries in our region.

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


Equal opportunities and pay for women Industrial relations Workforce participation

Industrial relations Wage growth is needed to provide lower paid Australians with an adequate standard of living. That wages haven't increased in response to worker shortages is a reflection of the power imbalance in the labour market today. Industrial relations reforms that return some power to workers would help in this respect. Rather than raising wages, employers look to be relying on an increase in labour supply through migration to fill their job vacancies at the existing low wages. Increased migration may be a reasonable response to shortages in occupations and industries where we do not currently have a sufficient supply of particular skills, it is however a lazy response as it doesn't address the underlying issues associated with us not training sufficient workers in some areas and not paying sufficiently high wages and/or having good enough work conditions to keep people in these sectors. I am also concerned about there being sufficient opportunities for Australian youth - particularly those who have struggled to obtain the skills, both technical and social, to enter the labour market in the past. The tight labour market is providing many of these young people with the chance to gain on-going employment for the first time. Gaining a foothold in the labour market for these young people potentially changes their entire life trajectory, with benefits to mental health, reduction in welfare dependence and the accompanying long term benefits to the country's budgetary position.

Prioritising issues for the incoming Government

Poll 54

Panellists were asked: 

"From this list, please pick the three issues you think will be the most important for the incoming government and should be the most important in the election".

Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND



Choosing just three issues is difficult as there has been such a lack of pro-active policy in this and the previous government that so many areas are in need of repair. Housing availability and affordability affects most Australians and is a concern across generations as parents worry about their children's futures. The public health system is under extreme duress. Aged care isn't on the list but would be on mine. As the carer of an elderly parent, I have witnessed first-hand how the system is crazily complicated, inefficient and potentially exploitative. The education system is also in need of attention. Tax reform is essential so that the government has the resources (collected in an equitable manner) needed to address all these issues.

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)


Australia risks being left behind and penalised by other nations who are pursuing a net zero target if we continue to drag our feet on addressing climate change. An economy-wide carbon price is the most efficient way to reach this target. Unfortunately in Australia this has become an irrational political battleground. The other measures are considerably more costly and will burden the budget at the expense of other, valuable social spending. Carbon capture technologies are often poorly regulated and unlikely to be able to be employed at sufficient scale to achieve net zero.

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"


Cash incentives for vaccination;National advertising campaigns;Vaccine passports for higher-risk settings (eg. flights, restaurants, major events);Mandatory vaccination for higher risk occupations;Lotteries with cash or prizes for the vaccinated

We need a national advertising campaign to make the case for getting vaccinated. The lack of action on this front is difficult to justify given that vaccination rate remain well below 100% even in the older age groups (where supply is not an issue). Incentives for vaccination (cash incentives or a lottery) and penalties for not getting vaccinated (inability to travel, go out for dinner etc) can both play an important role in motivating people to get the jab. In high risk occupations, mandating vaccinations is reasonable as not being vaccinated in these occupation constitutes a significant risk to the health, wellbeing and livelihoods of your fellow members of society.

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"



Reforming industrial relations to support higher wage decisions by state and federal industrial rela

Low wage growth in Australia reflects a shift in power over the last few decades from employees to employers. With a weakened system for determining the equitable sharing of returns from productivity growth, capital owners are able to pocket a larger share of the returns. For this reason, reform of the industrial relations system which increases the bargaining power of workers is needed. The growth in the employment of low-wage temporary migrants and the gig economy (in which workers receive substantially lesser remuneration and benefits than recognised employees) also play a role. I would support an examination of the role of temporary migration but have not selected this option as it is worded to include international students and I do not agree that we should be cutting international student numbers.

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, Make charging points compulsory in new homes and new carparks


Greater uptake of electric vehicles is essential for reducing our carbon emissions. It also lowers air pollution levels, improving city amenity and population health. Electric cars are much more expensive in Australia than in many other industrialised nations. Our low population density also means that average trip lengths are longer and a lack of charging stations is a serious disincentive to buying an electric vehicle. Prices will drop once sales volumes increase. There is a role for government in kick-starting this process. Subsidising public charging points is an obvious place to start. Studies have found that the cost savings to society from cleaner air exceeds the costs of installing the charging stations themselves. I am opposed to a blanket subsidy on all electric vehicles as wealthier households are likely to benefit disproportionately but subsidising cheaper electric vehicles is less regressive and will promote wide adoption. We should also follow the UK's lead and make charging points compulsory in new homes and new carparks as this the way of the future and it will be more expensive to retrofit charging stations. Last year Germany went a step further and passed a law making it compulsory for building owners to upgrade the wiring in the building so that tenants can install charging stations. I have my eye on a Mercedes electric van but am also contemplating a road trip to the Northern Territory - currently two incompatible aims. I won't be buying an electric vehicle until the public infrastructure is substantially improved!

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




The budget provided resources for many of the areas needing reform, e.g. aged care, but other than providing more funds did not propose reforms that would address the underlying structural problems. This is very much the case in aged care where the privatisation of the sector has led to rorting by some providers and where the low pay of aged care workers results in low quality care. The budget increases spending on aged care but doesn't address any of these underlying issues. The increased funds may just increase the attractiveness of the sector to those whose interest is profit rather than care.

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

Increasing JobSeeker by about $150 per week (from $287.25 to about $437) would bring it close to parity with the aged pension of $472.15 per week and to the poverty line of $457 per week (50% of median income). An increase of $150 per week is a significant increase, while not being large enough to create a disincentive to work. While increasing it beyond this to parity with either the poverty line or the aged pension could be argued for, a greater increase is unlikely to be politically palatable. Indexing the payments in line with wages would ensure that living standards on this payment are maintained so we don't end up back in a position with the transfer amount falling way short of what is sufficient to live on, resulting in people living in poverty, focusing on day-to-day survival and making it difficult to focus on the longer term goal of preparing for and obtaining work.

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 


Permanently boosting JobSeeker (Newstart) beyond December 31, 2020, Social housing, Incentives for renewable energy, Funding higher quality aged care

This budget, in the wake of COVID-19, is an unusual opportunity for the government to take a long term perspective while stimulating the economy. Bold decisions can be made that will have significant impacts on the future of the country. I am opposed to a predominant focus on tax cuts as they disproportionately advantage the wealthy, reduce public revenue and do not contribute to the long term stability of the community and country. Tax cuts are unimaginative policy. They do not take the opportunity that COVID-19 presents. In contrast, investing in infrastructure, including social housing and renewable energy, paves a way for long term growth, while meeting targets other than just purely economic targets. These initiative boost the economy through construction, and in the case of renewables, innovation. Social housing provides something invaluable to the less well-off in our community. Having spent considerable time in the US, I am disturbed to see Australia going down the same path of increasing homelessness. For this reason I also support a permanent increase to NewStart (JobSeeker). Chanelling funds to the least well-off stimulates the economy in the same way tax cuts do (through greater expenditure) while contributing to a more cohesive society. The state of aged care in Australia is also very worrying and the budget is an opportunity to right this wrong. Funding of aged care should include greater funding for government regulation and monitoring of aged care to reduce the exploitation and profit-skimming of some private providers. Finally, female employment has been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and I would like to see this addressed in the budget through support for sectors beyond construction.

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 provides substantial benefits to businesses and is reliant to a large extent on businesses responding to these incentives to restart economic growth. It is not clear to what extent this is likely. Similarly, the budget provides generous tax cuts and relies on these tax cuts to stimulate spending and the economy. Again, it is unclear whether people will choose to spend or to save. If either of these mechanisms proves ineffective then the budget will have expended a lot of resources with little to show for it. This budget was an opportunity to build a positive legacy. With the normal concerns about deficits put to one side because of the consensus on the need to stimulate the economy to emerge from the effects of the pandemic, there was an opportunity to spend big on projects that are difficult to fund in normal political times. Social housing and the aged care sector are obviously in need of some budget attention and were largely ignored. This opportunity has now been lost. Investment in these sectors would have created infrastructure that would benefit vulnerable Australians while also likely stimulating the economy to a greater extent than the measures taken. Focus on aged care would also stimulate employment growth in a female-dominated sector. Female workers have been disproportionately negatively affected by the pandemic as they are clustered in the service sector which is the sector of the economy most adversely affected. Further, older women are over-represented in the ranks of the unemployed and now will find it even harder to find jobs as they will be competing with younger workers for whom the government is now providing wage subsidies. To add insult to injury, the government also elected not to commit to a permanent increase in Jobseeker payments in the budget. This budget is gender blind i.e. the government did not look to assess whether its budget differentially affected men and women, it most definitely is not gender neutral.

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


The arguments against proceeding are the same that are levelled against increases in the minimum wage - that it will raise employer costs and so reduce employment. As is the case for minimum wage increases, the evidence of this happening is shaky. A further argument is that it will result in downward pressure on take home wages. This is possible but also far from certain and any welfare costs in terms of reduced take home wages today need to be balanced against the significant benefits of people being better able to support themselves in old age (particularly given the recent policy of allowing people to withdraw funds from super due to COVID-19 hardships.)

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 




Ongoing fiscal support will be necessary to forestall a deep recession. Such a recession would of itself have dire negative budgetary implications over the longer term. There will however be an opportunity to target the fiscal support to the most adversely affected industries - such as retail, hospitality and the arts.

Wage freeze for economic recovery

Poll 39

"A freeze in the minimum wage will support Australia's economic recovery"

Photo credit: Wes Mountain/The ConversationCC BY-ND 


Uncertain (neither agree nor disagree)


Careful empirical research has demonstrated that in regular times employment does not necessarily fall with moderately-sized minimum wage increases. Minimum wage increases can even increase employment through boosting demand and through other avenues. COVID-19 means that we are, however, not in "regular times". Nevertheless, a wage freeze at a time when wage growth has been very low, when the share of the nation's income accruing to capital has been increasing and when there is social unease about perceived increases in inequality has its own down sides: A wage freeze would also not necessarily increase employment. On balance, I would favour a small increase in the minimum wage.

Social Distancing Measures, May 2020

Poll 38

"The benefits to Australian society of maintaining social distancing measures sufficient to keep R<1 for COVID-19 are likely to exceed the costs"


Strongly agree


Maintaining sufficient social distancing measures now will result in a higher immediate economic cost but lower economic costs in the long run. Relaxing social distancing measures too quickly increases the risk of further waves of the virus and future lock-downs of the economy. Reintroduction of more stringent social distancing measures in the future not only come with their own direct economic costs but the increased uncertainty associated with seesawing between lock-downs and lesser restrictions would negatively affect consumer and business confidence and increase financial volatility. The end result would be a substantial increase in the total economic cost of the virus and a postponement of the return to normality.

Motherhood, caring and the careers of Australian women - April 2019

Poll 37

Proposition 1: "Without changes to existing public policy or private sector practice in Australia, motherhood will always negatively affect a woman's career."

Proposition 2: "In Australia, fathers are more restricted than mothers in fulfilling a caring role while in employment."


Part 1 - Strongly agree


That becoming a parent adversely affects women's labour market participation is clearly demonstrated by the differences in participation rates of men and women who have children in Australia. That public policy and work culture can address this is evidenced by the rates of labour market participation in countries such as Sweden who have actively designed policy to reduce this gap. Approximately 83% of mothers are employed in Sweden compared to just over 60% in Australia. Sweden has done this through public policies such as the provision of paternity leave to fathers (which cannot be transferred to mothers and so expires if not taken by the father). These public policies have led to a culture in which it becomes the norm for fathers to share child-rearing responsibilities and for the work place to accommodate this. In relation to proposition 2, men do face challenges when trying to negotiate work arrangements, such as reduced working hours, so as to be able to care for their child. This is a result of the social norms (reinforced by current public policy) that child care is primarily the mother's role. However, I also think that many men use this as an excuse for shirking from sharing child rearing responsibilities, and/or they are often too fearful to ask their employer for such conditions out of concern about how they will be perceived. Men need to ask and push for such change. It is too easy to just say it is not possible or that their request will not be considered. Finally, on a personal note, as a professor of economics and mother who has worked part-time since the birth of her first child 17 years ago, part-time employment if chosen by the woman can offer lots of benefits. I notice that 40% of women working part time aged over 45 do so because they prefer it. Both mothers and fathers need to be able to choose the arrangements that suit them best. In my case this involves both me and my husband working part-time. It gives us both the best of both worlds.

Part 2 - Agree


Sugar sweetened beverage tax for Australia - July 2018

Poll 31

Proposition 1: "The best economic policy instrument available to policy makers seeking to address obesity and related health issues in Australia is the introduction of a tax on sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs)."

Proposition 2: "The health and non-health benefits from a tax on SSBs are likely to outweigh the possible costs felt elsewhere in the economy."


1 - Agree

2 - Agree

Professional Accreditation of Economists - March 2019

Poll 36

Proposition 1: "Professional accreditation for the economics profession would attract more people to economics as a career."

Proposition 2: "The benefits of professional accreditation for current and prospective economists would exceed any possible costs"


Part 1 - Disagree


Part 2 - Disagree


In my experience from talking to many students about whether to continue with their economic studies, the problem with economics is not the career path but the image of the discipline. Economics brings up images of boring, middle-aged white men in grey suits who think they have all the answers. For many students this is a real turn off. Female students, for example, often come to me and express that they can't see how they can fit in to this scene, and whether it would even be worth trying. I find it quite discouraging myself. The dullness of economics is also reinforced in the way that it is often taught, in a very dry manner which reflects the dominant paradigm. This is not a criticism of the use of mathematics in economics - it is important to teach the maths but teach it in the context of a broader range of interesting examples. I have done this in my teaching in the past and students have responded very positively. I was attracted to economics because of its focus on improving human welfare. The analytical tools of economics are so valuable in assessing human decision-making and public policy. Portraying economics in this light (as a social science, rather than as a business subject) is in my view likely to attract a much more diverse range of students. The problem with canvassing the view of economists (the majority of whom are very much like the stereotypical image) on this topic is that they have pulled their way through economics as it is today and contributed to the shaping of it. Solutions are not likely to come from this quarter. I am not overly concerned about the drop in the study of economics at secondary school. I am only concerned to the extent that it reflects economics' image problem. In my view, secondary school students are better off acquiring core analytical skills through science, maths, english and humanities, which they can later apply to specialist study at university. I would be opposed to further cluttering the secondary school curriculum by introducing economics earlier.

Congestion pricing - November 2018


Strongly agree


Road congestion charges provide a useful incentive to drivers to either switch from driving to public transport, to switch to driving at a less congested time, or possibly to forego travel by, for example, working from home. Society benefits from reduced congestion and lesser carbon emissions etc. The same is true of plane travel charges. The proceeds could be used to lower other taxes but may be better spent on transport infrastructure, e.g. public transport, which would yield further public benefits.

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 - Agree

2 - Agree

1 - Although the public debt to GDP ratio has grown over the past 10 years, it is not especially high by international standards. Nevertheless, Australian governments should endeavour to keep the growth in public debt in check.

2 - Reducing public debt is more desirable than reducing taxes because tax cuts tend to get locked in as it is politically difficult for future governments to increase tax rates. Thus tax cuts are likely to result in greater government debt in the future and/or undesirable public spending cuts. Australian society would be best off if governments focussed on building the tax revenue base so as to allow future public expenditures that are necessary to ensuring a cohesive society without necessitating increases in government debt.

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."




Although electric vehicles have the advantage of not using fossil fuels and so reducing carbon emissions, they still contribute to road congestion, the need for road infrastructure and maintenance, parking and traffic accidents. Hence, drivers of these vehicles should contribute to covering the costs through the same pricing of road-use as for other vehicles.

Waste Policy - August 2018

Poll 32

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




It is unsustainable to keep producing the amount of waste that Australian households produce. The costs of landfill (including the environmental costs) will grow into the future and there are economic opportunities to be had in the expansion of our ability to recycle within Australia.

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 - Uncertain (neither agree nor disagree)

2 - Disagree

1 -

2 - In the medium to long term a more sound and ethical financial system should work for the benefit of the economy and society.

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."


Uncertain (neither agree nor disagree)


I am concerned about the impact of sub-contracting through platforms such as Uber as the "employer" takes very little responsibility for the "employee" (including not even acknowledging that they are an employer) and most of the risk falls on the worker. These sub-contracting arrangements undermine many of the hard fought for protections for workers. Wages and conditions of workers in these sectors are low and are likely to remain low, whether they will fall further in future is unclear.

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 - Strongly agree

2 - Strongly agree

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."




There will be economic benefits in terms of a boom in the wedding, and related industries. Also, by providing same sex couples with more certainty and confidence about their futures, the change in law may stimulate additional spending and joint investment on their part. The overall economic impacts are likely to be modest.

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 - Agree

B - Uncertain

Many routine aspects of jobs will be automated which will reduce labour demand, although I suspect not as dramatically as many people are predicting as human judgement will remain important in many roles. The benefits to those who own capital will probably be substantial and maybe enough to compensate the unemployed but the distribution of these benefits will be highly concentrated and it is unlikely that governments will be able to extract enough revenue to compensate those who are negatively affected.

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."




There is great variability in the quality of education and health services provided by the private sector. Some are high quality and some poor quality. Some are also over-priced given the quality of the service received. It is often difficult for clients to assess the level of quality prior to purchase and there are incentives for private providers to exploit the system and drive up the costs to both the government and clients. In general, the system could be improved by greater transparency and information made available to potential clients on the quality of service and the price. For example, information on patient outcomes and cost of service of medical providers, particularly specialists and hospitals.

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."


Strongly agree


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."




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."


Uncertain (neither agree nor disagree)


I don't think it matters much. Ideally they would be taught at the same time. An advantage of teaching micro first is that it introduces the student to the assumptions at the micro-level that are implicit in many of the macro models.

Social costs of gambling - December 2016

Poll 14

"The social costs of gambling exceed the benefits (including consumer surplus from recreational gambling and tax revenue for governments)."


Strongly agree


Gambling results in a transfer of resources from the most vulnerable in society to the more wealthy, including the mega-wealthy. No amount of tax revenue (and consumer surplus) can compensate for the destruction of some people's lives.

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."


Uncertain (neither agree nor disagree)


Treasury has a host of good economic minds. I would not be confident that an independent agency could do a better job, although countering this an independent agency may be under less political pressure.

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


I am sick of reading that both presidential candidates are weak candidates and seriously flawed. Hillary Clinton is one of the most experienced candidates to run for office. You need not agree with all of her policies but she is super smart, driven, and has accomplished a great deal. Just look at her CV. Donald Trump is a dangerous, unpredictable ego maniac who knows very little about public policy. Clinton will be a steady foreign policy hand whereas Trump may wreak havoc. The gender bias in the coverage of this election and in the reactions from the general public is seriously depressing.

Immigration - November 2016

Poll 12

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




Immigrants provide benefits in the form of their labour and demand for domestic goods and services which leads to economic growth. There are many other non-economic benefits that also flow from having a more culturally diverse population. Many people who fear immigration do so on the basis that immigrants take jobs that would otherwise be available for Australians. However, most careful empirical studies of immigration find that the economic growth that accompanies immigration results in modest increases in employment opportunities for the rest of the population.

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 improves on traditional economics by allowing a more realistic understanding and modelling of people's preferences rather than assuming we are all maximising our individual pay-offs. Most notably, it allows an understanding of social preferences and the implications for policy of such preferences. Experimental economics is playing an important role in improving our understanding of human behaviour, which then feeds into more realistic theoretical models.

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 - Strongly disagree


As long as governments use "nudges" for socially beneficial purposes e.g. increasing tax payments, I see no ethical problem. A recent experimental paper showed that nudges can be effective even when people know they are being "nudged". Hence, there need be no subterfuge. A larger question is how effective nudges are in the long term. It is likely that the population will in time become inured to being nudged in the same way, hence the need for continual innovation in the nudging messages.

PART 2 - Strongly disagree


As long as governments use "nudges" for socially beneficial purposes e.g. increasing tax payments, I see no ethical problem. A recent experimental paper showed that nudges can be effective even when people know they are being "nudged". Hence, there need be no subterfuge. A larger question is how effective nudges are in the long term. It is likely that the population will in time become inured to being nudged in the same way, hence the need for continual innovation in the nudging messages.

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."




Brexit is likely to have negative impacts on the UK economy because it will make doing business in Europe harder for UK residents, and vice-versa. The high level of uncertainty about how the exit will work and what it will mean in practice is also likely to dampen investment. There is also the possibility of further disruption if it leads to Scotland leaving the UK.

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."


Strongly agree


Future economic growth will depend to a large extent on Australia's ability to innovate and develop high tech services and manufacturing. Investing in education, particularly maths and sciences, is essential in this respect and Australia's declining educational performance jeopardises our ability to compete internationally in these sectors. Any increased educational expenditure also needs to address the unacceptably high and increasing educational inequality in this country. High inequality  serves as a brake on economic growth. In contrast to investing in education, tax cuts to business have a very uncertain economic impact.

Budget 2016-17 - Returning to surplus - May 2016

Poll 7

"The recently released 2016-17 Commonwealth Budget projects that the Australian Government's underlying cash balance will return to surplus by 2020?21*. Australian politicians should rebalance the budget with greater urgency."




Australia's government debt to GDP ratio, although increasing, is not high by international standards, and far lower than that of the US and European countries. It is also not particularly high relative to the past (lower than 1880-1970). To the extent that governments should be looking to reduce the budget deficit, the focus should be on increasing revenue rather than cutting government expenditure. Government expenditure as a percentage of GDP is relatively low compared to other wealthy countries. Empirical evidence that cutting (raising) taxes significantly boosts (hinders) economic growth is weak.

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 hard to generalise on this one. A lot depends on the nature of the event and it is very difficult to know, even for a specific event what the net benefits are. The costs are relatively easy to calculate but the benefits are more difficult - in terms of the expenditures by the tourists who are attracted to the event, by locals who attend and also possibly unrelated expenditure driven by increases in confidence that can accompany such events. In my view, the arguments for and against hosting such events should not be purely economic. I would place relatively little weight on the economic arguments given the nebulous nature of any estimate of the net benefits.

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."




I suspect my mother agrees with this statement, as she directs me to give her certain things or returns what I have chosen most years, but I disagree! Selecting gifts encourages you to think about those close to you, what they like and dislike, and may involve sharing something with them that has given you pleasure. Sometimes there are mismatches, but the benefits of this process and appreciation for the efforts made by others means that the utility of the gift-giving process exceeds the monetary value of the gifts exchanged.

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."




This move would likely lead to an increase in these services on Sundays and possibly more employment in response to the lower wage - whether this is desirable or not is a separate point. In my view workers should be compensated for working on a day which is less desirable to many and the impacts on family life of more weekend activity and employment need to be taken into account and may well offset any welfare gains.