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Author's Name: John Hewson
Date: Wed 06 May 2020

John Hewson

John Hewson AM

Dr Hewson has had several careers in academia, bureaucracy, business, politics, and the media. He is currently a Professor in the Crawford School of Public Policy at ANU, and an Adjunct Professor at Curtin, UTS, Canberra and Griffith Universities, having been Professor and Head of the School of Economics at UNSW, and Professor of Management and Dean Macquarie Graduate School of Management at Macquarie University. He has worked for The Australian Treasury (Census and Statistics), the IMF, the Reserve Bank, the UN (UNESCAP), and the ADB, and often advises senior public servants.

In Business, he was a Founder of Macquarie Bank, Chairman ABN Amro Australia, and Chair/Director of a host of public and private companies, with current positions in insurance broking, renewable energy, and funds management and investment banking. He is Chair, Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia, Chair, BioEnergy Australia, and a Patron of the Smart Energy Council and the Ocean Nourishment Foundation. In Politics he has served as Advisor/Chief of Staff to two Federal Treasurers and Prime Minister, as Shadow Finance Minister, Shadow Treasurer, Shadow Minister for Industry and Commerce, and Leader of the Liberal Party, and of the Federal Coalition in Opposition. In the media, he has been a regular Columnist since the early 80s for a range of domestic and international newspapers (presently Nine Media and Fairfax Regionals) and publications, a Sky News Contributor, and comments widely on economics and politics on TV, radio, in print, and on line, here and overseas.

Dr Hewson has also been active in charities and not-for-profits, main positions currently, Chair of Osteoporosis Australia and KidsXpress, Investment Advisory Committee of the Australian Olympic Foundation, Northern Metropolitan Cemeteries Land Manager, and as Member, SteerCo Australian Sustainable Finance Roadmap, National Standing Committee for Energy and the Environment, and as an Ambassador Women for Election Australia.

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Responses (7)

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



The failure to permanently increase Newstart (now JobSeeker) for roughly 30 years is a national disgrace and fails to understand and accept the realities and challenges of unemployment. It is irresponsible, if not immoral, to keep it so far below all estimates of the "poverty line". This has been driven by little more than prejudice, certainly not by evidence. It is time for a definitive "reset".

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 pathways to jobs are oblique. While a lot of money has been committed the strategy relies on business to have the confidence to invest and employ - this is an important and probably difficult transition from where Government was directly funding about 25% of the workforce via JobKeeper, and much "cushioning" business coming to an end. Given no idea of the "efficiency" of spending, in sense of jobs created per $1m of spending in different industries. BThe budget also assumes households will spend rather than save or reduce debt.Budget failed to seize the opportunity of COVID Recovery to initiate genuine reform in so many areas - tax, childcare, aged care, transition to a low carbon Australia, and many more.

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 


Expanded investment allowance, Permanently boosting JobSeeker (Newstart) beyond December 31, 2020, Social housing, Increasing subsidies for child care

Budget needs meet two objectives - short-term, to stimulate through the phase down of existing support and longer-term to set a framework for a sustained recovery by addressing the many structural challenges that had been consistently "kicked down the road" pre-COVID

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


Compulsory super has become a fundamental element in an effective national retirement incomes strategy - need to finish the job. While there is a populist temptation in the circumstances of COVID and our economic collapse - and, in particular, its impact on unemployment, job security, and wages - to delay or forgo any planned increase, there are other opportunities and imperatives to develop a beneficial longer-termrecovery strategy, that will secure employment and deliver wage increases.

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 




Not just a question of demand but also need some supply side responses.

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 




An important element of the recovery must be an improvement in consumer confidence and spending. Any increase in minimum wage should also be in context of significant increase in Newstart coming out of JobSeeker

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"




Assuming economic and social costs being difficult to quantify, especially likely impact on mental illness.