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ESA National Economic Panel Polls





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Author's Name: Brian Dollery
Date: Tue 12 Feb 2019

Brian Dollery

Professor Brian Dollery

Brian Dollery is Professor of Economics and Director of the Centre for Local Government at the University of New England, as well as Visiting Researcher at the Faculty of Economics at Yokohama National University. Brian has published extensively on local government, especially on the finance, performance and structure of Australian local government. Recent books include Local Public Fiscal and Financial Governance (2020), Funding the Future (2013),Councils in Cooperation (2012), Local Government Reform (2008), The Theory and Practice of Local Government Reform (2008),Reform and Leadership in the Public Sector (2007) and Australian Local Government Economics (2006). Brian has worked with local government across Australia and New Zealand, largely in the area of structural change and financial sustainability.

Subject Area Expertise

Public economics, especially local government.


Responses (39)

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"



Restraining growth in labour supply by cutting temporary migration (including international students

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 


Bring forward legislated personal income tax cuts, One-off cash transfers to households, Infrastructure projects, Social housing

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 




A lot depends on what form expansionary fiscal policy takes.

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"




Market forces should determine the uptake of electric cars, especially given the vast distances in Australia, and the huge differences in transport infrastructure between metro, regional and rural areas.

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 




Small and mediam sized enterprises will struggle over the short and medium term to retain existing staff once federal government wage subsidies cease. A freeze in minimum wages after the federal wage subsidy ends will assist in maintaining employment.

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




With loose monetary and fiscal policy, the Australian economy faces potential inflationary conditions. We are already seeing rampant asset inflation, with general price rises next in line.

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 disagree


The opportunity costs of maintaining current measures in terms of both community health and economics are growing. A better mix is required, which opens the economy but targets vulnerable groups, like frail elderly persons, for ongoing protection.

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 - Agree


Part 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 - Agree


Part 2 - Strongly agree


Accreditation has been used by numerous professions to erect barriers to entry and thereby force up remuneration. There is little reason to believe the same could not be done in economics.

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."


Strongly disagree


Numerous methods exist that can oblige banks to act in the public interest. For example, prudential regulation on mortgages can be adjusted to tighten lending and reduce mortgage default rates. Similar, legislation can beenacted obliging banks to be transparent on fees and charges.

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


Remain indexed in line with the CPI

Evidence has already emerged from the Australian agricultural labour market of the disincentive impact of the dole, with unemployed Australians disinclined to work at harvesting.

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 



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."


Strongly disagree


While obviously an increase in the the housing stock ceteris paribus will put downward pressure on prices, the question is biased since the ceteris paribus assumption is ridiculous in current policy context. The massive increase in both the absolute and the relative price of housing in Australia, most marked in capital cities, can be ascribed predominantly to historically unprecedented levels of immigration. Immigration has not only resulted in a massive increase in housing prices, but also suppressed per capita increases in income. Quite apart from its negative impact on social capital, immigration has thus served to depress the living standards of Australians in both of these ways.

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

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."


Strongly disagree


Since US corporate tax cuts change relative rate of return on Australian investments there will obviously be an effect. However, the strength of this effect cannot be known with any degree of precision.

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."




Workers who still retain their positions in the industries in question will be employed under conditions where capital/labour ratios have risen. It can thus be expected ceteris paribus that total factor productivity will rise, thereby exerting upward pressure on the wages of workers who remain in these industries.

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."




This comment was updated on 08/08/2017We know from the work of James Buchanan and other economists working in the public choice tradition that affirmative action inevitably generates inefficiency and inequity since state intervention is invariably captured by persons the policy was not intended to benefit. This is especially true when rent-seeking coalitions in the Tullock sense, comprised of highly educated and motivated people, are formed to advance the material interests of members through job preferment, especially in the public sector. Thus, for example, in contemporary Australian universities senior management positions have been awarded to highly organised well educated women rather the most suitable candidates because they have 'captured' the recruitment process. This has contributed to the fact that Australia now has badly run university system marked by rapidly declining standards.-Monash University and Monash Business School are committed to creating an organisational culture that is inclusive and in which female staff participate equally at all levels in our pursuit of excellence. The views in the above comment do not reflect Monash's stated position, or that of the Economics Society of Australia, on gender equity.

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."




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 agree


The accuracy of assumptions underpinning budget estimates have consistently been too optimistic. This may be because it serves to suggest that the federal government is addressing budget repair adequately. There is thus a strong case for an independent body to prepare forecasting assumptions.

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 disagree


The current capital gains tax regime predates the the present boom in house prices. It cannot thus be held responsible for the rapid rise in housing prices in Melbourne and Sydney. Instead other demand factors, especially high levels of international immigration which is concentrated in Melbourne and Sydney, are much more important.

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"




Reckless and socially destructive levels of immigration have meant that public infrastructure, especially in large Australian cities, is now woefully inadequate. While debt-financed infrastructure investment is a second or even third best policy option behind reigning in immigration, it is better than nothing.

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."


Strongly disagree


SSM likely to generate considerable legal costs in terms of conscientious objection. This kind of expenditure would represent DUP outlays with a negative multiplier.

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 disagree

2 - Strongly disagree

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 is a work in progress. It is still much better to approximate motivation using maximisation assumptions otherwise economics will end up in the morass psychology is stuck in.

Immigration - November 2016

Poll 12

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




Despite the vaunted Australian 'points system', in practice legal migration to Australia is subject to severe 'gaming' by means of forged qualification certification, falsified English language proficiency tests, extensive 'family reunion' often involving false claims of family connections, serial arranged marriages, and the like. The net outcome of these and other practices is evident in both crime and social security statistics for different migrant groups, with some groups way above national averages. This serves to raise the 'hidden' external costs of the migration program.

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


PART 2 - Strongly disagree 


RBA economic growth targets - August 2016

Poll 10

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




An optimal approach would be for the RBA to consider economic growth, inflation and unemployment in setting policy.

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."




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."




Empirical work has shown a weak relationship between education expenditure and growth-enhancing human capital acquisition and there are not thus strong grounds for assuming education expenditure will boost growth.

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."


Strongly agree


Turnbull Government budget is based on heroic assumptions and thus expenditure and revenue projections are implausible, to put it mildly. It would seem that both sides of Australian politics have simply given up on the urgent task of 'budget repair'.

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."




With Chinese growth continuing to fall, together with its comparatively low per capita GDP, it is highly unlikely imports of services from Australia will compensate adequately for the ongoing fall in Australian resource exports to China.

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."




As a general proposition this seems valid, but it is easy to find historical examples to the contrary, such as hugely expensive Football World Cup tournaments, the Olympic Games, and the like, which require immense infrastructure investment.

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."


Strongly agree


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