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Author's Name: Janine Dixon
Date: Tue 12 Feb 2019

Janine Dixon

Dr Janine Dixon

Dr Janine Dixon is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre of Policy Studies (CoPS) at Victoria University. Prior to joining CoPS in 2007 she worked at the Australian Bureau of Statistics (1997-2002) where she was the manager of various surveys of the service industries in Australia. Dr Dixon has a PhD from the University of Dublin, Trinity College (2006) and a Bachelor of Economics with First Class Honours from Monash University (1997).

Janine’s interests include the theory and practical application of large scale dynamic computable general equilibrium (CGE) models. She has worked extensively with the Vic Uni, VUMR (formerly MMRF) and TERM models of the Australian economy, undertaking economic consultations for various public and private sector clients in Australian and internationally.

Subject Area Expertise

CGE model training, CGE modeling, Economic forecasting, Labour market forecasting


Responses (20)

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, More funding for education and training, Increasing subsidies for child care

I've chosen four options that reduce the barriers to work, by reducing the impacts of poverty, and in the case of child care subsidies, reducing the effective marginal tax rate. More funding for education and training is important at all levels, but particularly for universities that have seen a large fall in revenue from the international student cash cow. Runner up is "incentives for renewable energy" - it is enormously important that we take action to avoid catastrophic climate change - but as the question asks about the next two years only, it doesn't make the top four.

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


The superannuation system has played an important role in maintaining Australia's savings rate and ensuring retirement incomes for a generation of Australians, however, the optimal rate of super is not clear, so it is not clear that 12 per cent is better than 9.5 per cent. An increase in super is likely to crowd out other forms of savings. As Giesecke and Nassios argue ( and, "the complex chain by which some savings that would have been home deposits end up financing the same homes via debt means a fair proportion of them is lost along the way in fees, expenses and profit margins." In other words, the beneficiaries of household debt being higher than it needs to be are the administrators of super funds. While high household debt poses a risk to economic stability at any time, we cannot afford to let the household sector weaken further at present. We will require a strong household sector to lift the economy out of the present recession, after lockdowns are lifted.

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 




This isn't the year for a big hike in minimum wages, but a freeze goes too far the other way. Minimum wage earners spend a high proportion of their earnings and will help to return household consumption to more normal levels as social distancing measures are lifted.

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


An assessment of this proposition rests on a what is assumed about the counter factual - a world in which the virus is at large and individuals need to make their own decisions about how to protect themselves and others. Mandated social distancing measures have levelled the playing field and protected vulnerable cohorts of the population. Without a coordinated response, cautious and at-risk individuals would have been at a significant disadvantage. The coordinated response has been effective at containing the pandemic and households have been supported by the $130 billion Jobkeeper package, along with Jobseeker and other stimulus payments. Acknowledging that unemployment and economic downturn puts lives at risk, social distancing measures need to be lifted as soon as it is safe to do so. However a poorly managed response would also have placed lives at risk (in addition to the deaths and long term health impacts from Covid-19) and potentially caused a similar level of economic damage.

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"


Remove the luxury car tax from all-electric cars, ubsidise public charging points for electric cars, ake charging points compulsory in new homes and new carparks

Removing luxury car tax on electric vehicles is a small and achievable step to accelerate the take-up of electric cars, however it probably would not have a large impact because the really big take-up will be below the luxury car tax threshold. Governments can help by funding the infrastructure (charging points) required by electric cars.

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 disagree


On proposition 1, I've chosen "strongly disagree" because the wording of the proposition - the use of "always" - means it can be disproven with a single counterexample. I do agree that motherhood too often negatively affects a woman's career. Policy settings, such as the current design of the childcare subsidy system, are a problem, and in some cases the second earner in the family is penalized with additional costs (taxes, childcare costs net of subsidies) of more than 100% of his/her additional wages for increasing his/her (usually her) work hours. While we can do more with existing policy (fixing up the childcare subsidy system is an obvious example), cultural change also plays an important role, and policy settings can nudge this in the right direction. The early years spent caring for children can set expectations within the family. The mother may find herself trapped in the role of primary carer and secondary bread-winner, with adverse consequences for her career. A Swedish-style paternity leave policy may help to reset societal expectations of both parents.

Part 2 - Agree


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 expansionary fiscal policy is the right setting for the times. We now need to ensure the workforce is ready to absorb additional spending on aged care, child care and NDIS by making sure that sufficient workforce training is delivered, especially as it is not currently possible to turn on the migration "tap" to address workforce shortages.

Congestion pricing - November 2018




In principle, congestion charges can be an effective means of reducing congestion at peak times. Congestion charges could be introduced in a way that is revenue neutral, replacing some combination of fuel taxes, motor vehicle registration fees, parking fees or public transport prices. Although this probably would make the "average citizen" better off, careful management would be required to identify winners and losers from the policy and ensure a fair transition into the policy. For example, low-wage workers are often afforded less flexibility in working hours and locations and may find it difficult to adjust their road or transport usage in response to a congestion charge. To address this, employers may be able to take simple steps such as setting shift changeover times outside the peak congestion periods. As a longer term response, employers might also relocate businesses in response to congestion charging.

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

Two arguments often raised in favour of NOT increasing Newstart/JobSeeker are (1) that it creates a disincentive to employment, and (2) that the budgetary cost is too great. But Jobseeker (without the coronavirus supplement) is so low that recipients live in poverty, a greater impediment to training and finding work than the perceived disincentive created by the payment. And (2) the cost of an extra $150 per week for 800,000 JobSeeker recipients would be $6 billion a year, a mere fraction of the PBO's costing for the income tax cuts which will be worth over $40 billion a year by 2026-27.

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 - It's possible that credit will become less readily available as a "first round effect", but to take a balanced view, we should also consider that having a better-behaved banking sector will also have positive repercussions for the economy.

2 - Presumably credit was readily available to sub-prime mortgage lenders leading up to the GFC. More credit isn't always a good thing!

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 government has rightly abandoned fiscal restraint in this budget. Whether it has chosen to spend in the right areas remains to be seen. Much of the recovery strategy is about infrastructure investment, yet infrastructure wasn't badly affected by the pandemic, and more infrastructure isn't necessarily what we need to bring us out of it. A better economic strategy would have been to really guarantee a return to strong labour force participation by investing more in the care sector. Of course, creating better care conditions for the elderly, disabled and children not only makes economic sense - it also improves individual welfare which is sadly lacking in many institutional care settings.

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."




With all its imperfections, the present fuel excise internalises the externalities – pollution and congestion – associated with fossil fuel-powered vehicles. The proposition to price road usage separately is attractive in that electric vehicles avoid the fuel excise and thereby avoid paying for road use altogether. With a proposition such as this though, the devil is in the detail. How big should the charge be – is it intended to raise sufficient revenue to maintain the entire road network or just part of it, and would any other tax (such as the fuel excise) be changed to neutralise budgetary impacts? How would the charge be administered? Would there be winners and losers and would the losers require compensation? Would rates differ in inner-city, suburban and rural areas? Should road-use pricing be used to reduce congestion at peak times and reward road users for travelling off-peak? And if so, would low-paid workers (who often have less flexibility in their working hours) be more adversely affected than high-paid workers, and does this matter? As electric vehicles become more widespread, road-use pricing will remain a topical issue, but unless these details were well-understood and addressed in the context of Australian road use, it will be attractive in theory only.

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."




(with Jason Nassios):  It is difficult to agree with the proposition that the recent US corporate tax cuts will have no impact on investments in and capital flows into Australia. The US is a large consumer of foreign-financed capital, and a cut to US corporate tax rates makes investing in the US even more attractive, leaving the rest of the world, including Australia, with less. But how much less?The US accounts for around 20 per cent of the world’s capital stock, and equity in the US accounts for around 25 per cent of US capital stock. That means 20 per cent of 25 per cent, or 5 per cent of world capital stocks, will be subject to the tax cut. Taking into account deductions for interest and depreciation, our most generous estimate is that rates of return on these stocks could increase by around 1 percentage point as a result of the tax cut. If we also take into account new caps on interest deductibility, the impact on rates of return could be much less. So, if 5 per cent of the world’s capital stock gets an increased rate of return of 1 percentage point, how does this affect investment in Australia? We ran this though the VU financial CGE model* and found that investment in Australia, of which around 20 per cent is foreign financed, would be a quarter of a percent lower than it would have been without the tax cut. Over time, investment would recover somewhat, as the “bad news” is gradually transmitted into a lower wage rate. Does this mean Australia should follow suit? Our argument against cutting company taxes has always been that the upfront loss of taxation revenue – a windfall gain to foreign investors – is too great to justify the long run benefits derived from a stimulus to foreign investment. The US tax cut tilts the parameters of this argument towards supporting an Australian tax cut, but probably not by enough. *

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."


Strongly agree


In our generation we have seen that with government intervention, positive cultural change has been achieved on issues such as smoking, drink driving and environmental awareness. If gender segregation in labour markets was an issue that could be resolved by private markets alone, it wouldn't exist, so I do agree that some degree of government intervention is needed to steer the Australian labour market towards gender equality. Significant gender differences exist in the labour market. For example, among females, by far the most common occupation is sales assistant (according to the detailed "unit group" occupational classification), but for males, there is no single dominant occupation, with truck driver, sales assistant, electrician, carpenter and retail manager accounting for similar numbers of jobs. Of the 358 occupation classifications under which the ABS collects data, around 200 are either male-dominated or female-dominated (with more than 75% of jobs taken by one sex).

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."


Uncertain (neither agree nor disagree)


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


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."




The east coast, until recently physically isolated from world gas markets, has long had the cheap gas from Bass Strait that underpins manufacturing activity and provides heating to households. Victorians in particular have enjoyed gas prices well below world prices for many decades. Now that we have the facilities to export gas, market economics suggests that Victorians will need to pay the higher world price for gas. A complete transition to world gas prices may be prevented by a domestic reservation policy, but it will come at a cost. Kelly Neill and colleagues at UWA find that the gas reservation policy in Western Australia causes a deadweight loss, diverting gas to relatively low-value uses. Yet it would be unwise to allow a sudden, market-driven increase in gas prices without some policy response. The transition needs to be carefully managed as there will be winners and losers. Foreign-owned corporations extracting gas for export unambiguously contribute to GDP and boost the terms of trade. However, not all of the contribution to GDP carries over into national income. No discussion of the gas market is complete without mentioning royalties. Royalty revenue (from the PRRT) should be used to help manufacturers and low-income households adjust to higher gas prices. This will require a strong commitment from government to collect royalties and company taxes from the gas extraction companies, otherwise the overwhelming winners will be non-resident shareholders.

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 - Uncertain (neither agree nor disagree)

1 - "Public support" of quality journalism is warranted - but not necessarily in the form of funding to public broadcasters. Better ways for government to ensure quality journalism are (1) good regulation of the sector, with appropriate standards for journalism and reporting, local content, and advertising (2) strong regulation of media ownership and control, to ensure a diversity of views and content.

2 -

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 - Disagree

In a monetary sense, technological gains will provide enough to "compensate" workers, but poorly-managed welfare dependence leads to many problems.  The premise of these questions, "holding labour market institutions and job training fixed," is key.  Training strategies need to anticipate, as best they can, areas in which jobs are not at threat of automation, and encourage trainees in these directions.