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Author's Name: Rachel Ong ViforJ
Date: Tue 12 Feb 2019

Rachel Ong

Professor Rachel Ong ViforJ

Rachel is currently an Australian Research Council Future Fellow and Professor of Economics at Curtin University.  Her research interests include the role of housing in Australia’s ageing population, intergenerational housing concerns, housing pathways and the links between housing and non-shelter outcomes. She is currently undertaking research in three major areas – intergenerational housing wealth inequality, the edges of home ownership, and the links between housing and wellbeing. Rachel was the recipient of the Economic Society’s Young Economist Award in 2018. She is currently a member of the CEDA Council on Economic Policy and the National Economic Panel. She is also an Australian representative on the Steering Committee for the Asia-Pacific Network for Housing Research.Housing Research.

Subject Area Expertise

Housing policy, Housing economics, Population ageing, Tax-transfer evaluation, Mature age employment participation, Intergenerational equity


Responses (6)

Policies to deliver higher wage growth

Poll 48

Our panellists were asked

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

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



Measures to boost productivity growth;Measures to boost business investment;Reforming industrial rel

In reality, Australia?s productivity levels were already lower than desired prior to COVID-19. So I think driving increases in productivity would be the most direct way of addressing the crux of the wage problem. Other than that, it was difficult finding two other measures that I could fully support. Demand-side measures are secondary as we do not have a problem with low demand, so boosting demand at the expense of a growing budget deficit is undesirable. I doubt that restricting labour supply through reduced immigration will have meaningful impacts at this time, given already historically low immigration levels during the past year. Perhaps if immigration levels were currently high, there would be scope to look at reducing immigration. Reducing the international students intake will only further harm a large export sector (international education) which will in turn depress aggregate demand (and wages). Increasing the bargaining power of trade unions may assist specific sectors where union representation is widespread, but we will not see broad increases in wages across the economy.

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 




Governments should be very careful about suddenly removing fiscal support suddenly until the economy embarks on a steady trajectory of recovery. However, they should look at reducing the level of fiscal support incrementally as soon as possible.

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


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 




The level at which the minimum wage should be set has remained a contentious issue for policymakers. Central to the policy dilemma is the extent to which increases in the minimum wage might reduce the demand for labour. Australia is likely facing a prolonged period of economic recovery with high unemployment rates for the foreseeable future. Hence, policymakers should be wary that raising the minimum wages may potentially further depress labour demand and offset efforts to reduce the unemployment rate in a weak economic environment. Concerns regarding these trade-offs are less relevant under strong economic conditions. Unfortunately, the current economic reality is a sombre one, so the priority should be assisting people to return to work , before consideration can be given to raising the minimum wage. It is also worth noting that unemployment is associated with substantially worse life satisfaction and financial prosperity outcomes than those working in minimum wage jobs. Raising the minimum wage may also lead to relatively small improvements in disposable incomes due to the gradual withdrawal of income-tested welfare benefits that usually accompany wage rises for low-income earners.

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




In general, the budget struck the right emphasis on economic recovery and jobs. However, the size of the budget deficit is worrying. The schemes designed to assist home purchase are merely band-aid solutions to a massive housing affordability problem that requires genuine structural reform.

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."