National Economic Panel



ESA National Economic Panel Polls





Got an Idea?

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.

Subject Area Expertise



Company website:

Responses (10)

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;Reforming industrial relations to increase the use of enterpri

While the measures to restrict labour supply would work directly to raise wages I can't support them for a host of other economic and social reasons. The end-game can't just be to raise wages ignoring the broader economic and social consequences of the means by which this is achieved. I have supported measures which I believe would together result in a longer-term structural reset of industrial relations and the labour market to ensure longer-term, fair, and sustainable wages growth.

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 the purchase of all all-electric cars, Subsidise public charging points for electric cars, Set a date to ban the import of petrol and diesel cars, Make charging points compulsory in new homes and new carparks


The transition to electric vehicles is an imperative and inevitable in an effective response to climate. It will happen faster than most think once major car manufacturers release an affordable electric car. Remember it took only 10 years from 1903-13 for the US to transition from horse-drawn to petrol-driven vehicles, and technology development and adaptation are much quicker today. particularly important for Australia. Governments are far short of recognising the scale and the urgency of an effective and fair transition to at least net zero by 2050. Australia is a global laggard, unwilling to meet its global responsibilities. Smart governments move decisively, not delay.

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 budget was predominately an election budget, having carefully sought to neutralise issues and appeal to political constituencies, significant to the re-election of the Morrison Government. Its vision is essentially just to the next election, probably to be held before the end of this year. Economically, they feel that they have done enough by way of fiscal and monetary support to basically sustain a run of favourable economic numbers until the election, but have done very little to sustain a significant recovery in the longer-term - in their words to "Secure the Recovery" but not "Sustain" it. Main fiscal concerns are the very significant recurrent spending on social issues - child and aged care, the NDIS and mental illness - on debt , and the commitment to Stage 3 tax cuts (also probably requiring the conversion of the "Lamington" into the tax scales) that will prove to be unaffordable costing about $25b ( in today's dollars) in what will be a world of Budget Repair in 2024. To be generous, the budget does initiate some Reform of Aged Care along the lines of the recommendations of the Royal Commission - in spending about half the recommended annual amount, with some focus on better training and improved services, but no adjustment to the wages of carers and nurses, and no acceptance of the need for an Independent Commission to oversea the sector.

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".

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

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.

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.