National Economic Panel



ESA National Economic Panel Polls





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Date: Wed 06 May 2020

Richard Holden

Professor Richard Holden

Richard Holden is professor of economics at UNSW Business School. Professor Holden received a PhD from Harvard University and was a faculty member at MIT and the University of Chicago before returning to Australia.

He has published in the leading economics journals such as the Quarterly Journal of Economics, American Economic Review and Review of Economic Studies. His popular writings have appeared in outlets such as the New York Times, New Republic, American Affairs, Australian Financial Review, The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Conversation.

He is a fellow of the Econometric Society, and of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia.

Subject Area Expertise



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Responses (11)

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"


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

We only have one effective tool to make life as close to what it was pre pandemic long term ? vaccinations. There is a large and clear negative externality to folks not being vaccinated. Business and government internalize such externalities all the time. For vaccinations we have no-jab-no-pay, vaccination requirements for school attendance and more. We need to think creatively to get vaccination rates as high as possible.

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, Corporate tax cuts, Wage subsidies or hiring bonuses (beyond JobKeeper), More funding for education and training

We need to be working on both the demand side and supply side as the virus comes under control. It would be a mistake to underspend on fiscal measures, but also a mistake not to use this moment to make our tax rates more competitive.

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


An increase in the superannuation guarantee trades current consumption (wages) for future consumption (retirement savings). Now is a very bad time to do more of that. In addition, the current system is extremely costly in terms of tax concessions but still results in around 70% of Australians retiring on the aged pension. As the Grattan Institute and others have pointed out, the "bang for the buck" of the current system is completely unclear. I favor reforming the system through having low-cost index funds (rather than high cost stock pickers) and taxing on the way out (at the marginal rate including capital gains discounts) not the way in. But absent that we should not be increasing mandatory contributions.

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;Maintaining high governm

Immigration affects both labor supply and labor demand. And arguments that immigration of the composition in Australia?s recent pre-pandemic years systematically reduces wages is contrary to the best available evidence, and basic economic theory.

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 


Strongly agree


The carrying cost of long-term debt is less than 1% pa and net debt/GDP is around 20%.

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 


Strongly agree


In current economic conditions the employment-destroying effects of a higher minimum wage outweigh the benefits to minimum wage workers have slightly more spending power.

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


If R>1 then the virus grows exponentially, eventually killing tens to hundreds of thousands of Australians.

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, Subsidise public charging points for electric cars


EVs are a classic example of where there are network externalities that hinder adoption. That is why I support subsidizing charging stations. This intervention operates directly on the network externality. In addition, removing the luxury car is a no-brainer. It's a profoundly silly tax in any case. EV adoption is about internalizing an externality, NOT about income redistribution. So subsidizing only the purchase of non-luxury EVs is misguided. Making charging points compulsory in new homes is a mistake because it effectively requires three-phase power and only a handful of houses in any street can have that without making the grid unstable.

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




This budget is a watershed. It marks a shift in Libera Party fiscal philosophy away from an austerity-driven "debt and deficits" mantra to a focus on economic and employment growth. In due course there should be increased attention paid to the structure and quality of spending, but for now we should all just applaud the "Frydenberg Pivot".

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

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 largely failed to address the economic issues we had before COVID-19. The tax measures were half-hearted, there was no childcare plan, and even infrastructure spending was more-or-less "business as usual".