Economic and Social Outlook Conference
New Agenda for Prosperity

The Melbourne Institute and The Australian were pleased to host their fifth joint Economic and Social Outlook Conference on Thursday 27 and Friday 29 March 2008.

Listen to the recordings


8.45 - 9.30am

Session 1: Plenary

Official Opening

Chair: Professor Stephen Sedgwick, Director, Melbourne Institute

Professor Glyn Davis AC, Vice-Chancellor, The University of Melbourne

Keynote Address

Chair Professor Glyn Davis AC, Vice-Chancellor, The University of Melbourne

The Hon Kevin Rudd MP, Prime Minister

Title: Towards A Productivity Revolution: A New Agenda Of Micro-Economic Reform For Australia (Speech)
9.30 - 10.45am

Session 2: Plenary


The Challenges of Growth

Will the China boom continue? As the Reserve Bank lifts interest rates rise and Canberra hands out tax cuts, can Australia s long growth cycle continue in the face of inflationary pressures at home and a possible US credit-crunch recession abroad? W hat has to be done to reinvigorate productivity growth?

Chair Professor Stephen Sedgwick, Director, Melbourne Institute

Mr Philip Glyde, Executive Director, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics
Title: The challenges of growth: Will the boom continue? (Presentation)

Mr Chris Richardson, Director, Access Economics
Budgeting for the burbs (Presentation)

Mr Gary Banks AO , Chairman, Productivity Commission
Title: Riding the Third Wave: some challenges in national reform (Presentation) [paper]

10.45 - 11.15am

Morning Tea

11.15 - 12.35pm

Session 3: Plenary


Is Australia Advancing Fairly?

Australia has never been richer. But has the boom bypassed substantial areas of society?
How should policy better promote opportunity on the disadvantaged edges of widespread prosperity?

Chair Ms Melinda Cilento, Deputy Chief Executive, Business Council of Australia

Mr Tony Nicholson, Executive Director, Brotherhood of St Laurence
Title: Sustaining Prosperity and Advancing Fairness (Presentation) [paper]

Professor Peter Saunders, Social Research Director, Social Foundations, The Centre for Independent Studies
Title: What Future for the Marginalised Minority? (Presentation)

Professor Mark Wooden, Deputy Director and Director, HILDA Survey, Melbourne Institute
Title: Advance Australia Fair: What Does HILDA Say? (Presentation)

Hon Dr Geoff Gallop, Professor and Director, Graduate School of Government, The University of Sydney
Title: "Is Australia Advancing Fairly?" (Paper)

12.45 - 2.15pm


Chair Mr Michael Stutchbury, Deputy to the Editor-in-Chief (Business), The Australian
Speaker The Hon Wayne Swan MP, Treasurer
Title: Modern Federalism and Our National Future (Speech)
2.30 - 4.00pm

Session 4: Concurrent

Session 4A: Is there a Housing Crisis?

Is the rising cost of home ownership a real crisis - or are Australians paying the price of borrowing too heavily? Is the housing problem concentrated among lower-income first home owners or renters? How should policy respond?

Chair Professor Julian Disney, Chair, National Affordable Housing Summit

Associate Professor Judith Yates, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, The University of Sydney
Title: Australia's Housing Affordability Crisis (Presentation)

Mr Anthony Richards, Head, Economic Analysis Department, Reserve Bank of Australia
Title: Some Observations on the Cost of Housing in Australia (Presentation)

Mr Bill Evans, General Manager, Economics, Westpac Banking Corporation [Presentation]

Dr Frank Gelber, Chief Economist and Director, Economics and Property, BIS Shrapnel
Title: Is therre a Housing Crisis? (Presentation)

Session 4B: From Welfare to Work

Unemployment has fallen to generational lows just as labour force participation has risen to record highs. What more can be done to shrink the pools of the long-term unemployed, disability pensioners and jobless families?

Chair Professor Guay Lim, Professorial Research Fellow, Melbourne Institute

Mr Michael Horn, Senior Manager, Research and Policy, Brotherhood of St Laurence
Title: Rethinking Employment Assistance to Strengthen Social and Economic Participation (Presentation) [Paper]

Professor Robert Gregory AO, Professor of Economics, Economics Program, Research School of Social Sciences, The Australian National University
Title: Stumbling through the Mist of the Australian Labor Market and Welfare System (Presentation)

Dr Hielke Buddelmeyer, Research Fellow, Melbourne Institute
Title: Some observations on labour market transitions and welfare-to-work (Presentation)

Mr Andrew Johnson, Executive Director, Australian Council of Social Services
Title: From Work First to Work Capacity:A new Participation Agenda for people of workforce age (Presentation)

Session 4C: Education Revolution

The Rudd government has proclaimed its commitment to an education revolution. What kind of revolution is required to make education more relevant and effective from pre-schools and schools to skills training and universities?

Chair Professor Stephen Sedgwick, Director, Melbourne Institute

Professor Collette Tayler, Chair of Early Childhood Education and Care, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne
Title: Why is Early Childhood Education and Care a new direction for Australia? (Presentation) [Paper]

Professor Geoff Masters, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Council for Educational Research
Title: Four Imperatives for a Revolution in School Education (Presentation)

The Hon Tony Smith MP, Shadow Minister for Education, Apprenticeships and Training
Smith's speech on educational reform (Speech)

Professor Richard Larkins AO, Vice-Chancellor and President, Monash University
Title: What Kind of 'Revolution' in School Education? (Presentation)

Mr Eric Sidoti, Director, The Whitlam Institute

4.00 - 4.30pm

Afternoon Tea

4.30 - 6.00pm

Session 5: Plenary


After the Apology

The Rudd Government says it is now focussed on practical measures to combat indigenous disadvantage. What does this mean for the Howard Governments intervention in the Northern Territory ? What are the results so far? Can the model be applied elsewhere?


The Hon Fred Chaney AO, Chair, Desert Knowledge Australia


The Hon Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
Macklin's indigenous welfare speech (Speech)

Professor Marcia Langton AM, Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies, The University of Melbourne
Title: Poverty in the midst of plenty: using the new federal approach to overcome Indigenous disadvantage in Australia (Presentation)

Professor Ian Anderson, Director, Onemda VicHealth Koori Health Unit and the Centre for Health and Society, The University of Melbourne
Title: The Health Component of "The Intervention": Key questions for Evaluation (Presentation)

Mr Galarrwuy Yunupingu AM, Senior Gumatj Elder

7.00 for 7.30pm

Gala Dinner

Ballroom, Park Hyatt Melbourne, 1 Parliament Place off Parliament Square, Melbourne

Chair: Mr Paul Kelly, Editor-at-Large, The Australian

Professor Ross Garnaut AO, Garnaut Climate Change Review and Professor of Economics, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University
Garnaut's speech on climate change (Speech)

Day Two, Friday 28 March 2008

8.30 - 10.00am

Session 6: Plenary


The Infrastructure Catch-Up

After the fiscal consolidation of the 1990s, infrastructure investment is undergoing a catch-up. But are the regulation, pricing and governance of basic infrastructure still hindering the economys supply lines?

Chair Mr George Megalogenis, The Australian

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government
Title: Our Infrastructure Catch-Up (Speech)

Dr Michael Keating, Chairman, Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal
Title: Infrastructure: What is needed and how do we pay for it? (Presentation) [Paper]

Mr Rod Sims, Director, Port Jackson Partners Limited
Title: Releasing the infrastructure handbrake (Paper)

Mr Garry Bowditch, Executive Director, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia
Title: The Infrastructure Catch up (Presentation)

10.00 - 10.30am

Morning Tea, Basement, Economics and Commerce Building

10.30 - 12.00pm

Session 7: Concurrent

Session 7A: Making Hospitals Work

Short term injections of cash may relieve some of the symptoms of the ailing health system. But can changed funding arrangements end the buck passing and improve the health of Australians?

Chair Professor James Angus, Dean, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, The University of Melbourne

The Hon Nicola Roxon MP, Minister for Health and Ageing

Ms Mary Ann O'Loughlin, Director, The Allen Consulting Group
Title: Making hospitals work (while not stuffing up the rest (Presentation)

Dr Stephen Duckett, Executive Director, Reform and Development Division, Queensland Health
Title: Making (public) hospitals work (Presentation)

Professor Anthony Scott, Professorial Research Fellow, Melbourne Institute
Title: Making Hospitals Work: Chronic Problems and Untried Solutions (Presentation)

Session 7B: The Broadband Impasse

What is needed to turn the political football of broadband into the investment required to produce substantially faster internet speeds? Should the dominant telco be regulated more or less?

Chair Ms Jennifer Hewett, National Affairs Correspondent, The Australian

Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy

Mr Graeme Samuel AO, Chairman, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

Mr Ravi Bhatia, Chief Executive Officer, Primus Telecom
Title: High Speed Broadband in Australia (Presentation)

Mr Donald McGauchie AO, Chairman, Telstra Corporation Ltd
Title: The Broadband Impasse (Presentation)

Session 7C: Tax Reform

Both the Hawke-Keating and Howard Governments delivered major tax reform. As the boom delivers big increases in revenue, what should be the Rudd Governments tax reform agenda? Is fresh thinking required?

Chair Mr Alan Wood, Economics Editor, The Australian

The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, Shadow Treasurer
Malcolm Turnbull's full speech (Speech)

Professor John Freebairn, Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, The University of Melbourne
Title: Reforming State Taxes (Presentation) [Paper]

Professor Paul Kerin, Professorial Fellow, Melbourne Business School
Title: Why We Should Slash the Tax Burden (Presentation) [Paper]

Professor Neil Warren, Head of School, Australian School of Taxation (Atax), The University of New South Wales
Title: Tax Policy Future Shock: Arrivederci good tax design? (Presentation) [Paper]

Mr Tim Cox, Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers

Session 7D: David Finch Lecture
Professor Richard N. Cooper

Understanding Global Imbalances
Large global imbalances are a natural consequence of globalisation of financial markets and significant demographic change (and high oil prices). We should not be surprised by or anzious about them, and should be wary of proposals for policy actions to eliminate them.

Chair Professor Margaret Abernethy, Dean, Faculty of Economics and Commerce, The University of Melbourne
Introduction Mr Ian Renard, Chancellor, The University of Melbourne

Professor Richard N. Cooper

Richard N. Cooper is Mauritis C. Boas Professor of International Economics at Harvard University. He is Vice-Chairman of the Global Development Network, and a member of the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Executive Panel of the US Chief of Naval Operations, and the Brookings Panel on Economic Activity. He has served on several occasions in the US Government, and was chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boxton from 1990-92. As a Marshall Scholar, he studied at the London School of Economics, and earned his PhD at Harvard University.

12.00 - 1.30pm

Lunch, Grand Buffet Hall, Union Building

Chair Professor Peter McPhee, Provost, The University of Melbourne
Speaker The Hon Dr Brendan Nelson MP, Leader of the Opposition (Speech)
1.45 - 3.15pm

Session 8: Concurrent

Session 8A: Innovation and Research

The Rudd government has firmly put reform of Australias innovation and research systems on its agenda. What does the government intend? What is needed?

Chair Dr Mike Woods, Commissioner, Productivity Commission

Senator the Hon Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research

Professor Alan Robson AM, Vice-Chancellor, The University of Western Australia

Mr Hutch Ranck, Managing Director, DuPont Australia and New Zealand
Title: Improving Australias Innovation Performance is Essential for Our Future Prosperity (Presentation)

Dr Rowan Gilmore, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Institute of Commercialisation
Title: Innovation and Research Trends in Research Commercialisation (Presentation)

Professor Peter Hoj, Vice-Chancellor and President, The University of South Australia
Title: Innovation and Research Session (Presentation)

Mr Charles Laycock, Chief Executive Officer, Iatia Vision Sciences
Title: Innovation (Presentation)

Session 8B: Boosting Labour Supply

Has the economy reached full employment, or can policies on immigration, childcare, mature workers and training boost labour supply much more?

Chair Professor Judith Sloan, Commissioner, Australian Fair Pay Commission

Mrs Heather Ridout, Chief Executive, Australian Industry Group
Innovation (Presentation)

Mr Jeff Lawrence, Secretary, Australian Council of Trade Unions

Associate Professor Guyonne Kalb, Principal Research Fellow, Melbourne Institute
Title: Encouraging Labour Supply at Different Stages of the Life Cycle (Presentation)

Dr Andrew Leigh, Fellow, Economics Program, Research School of Social Sciences, The Australian National University
Title: The Economics of Labour Shortages (Presentation)

Session 8C: Dealing with the Regulatory Burden

The new government has promised to stem the explosion of business regulation. Can this really be done? Are there big gains in just making regulation better?

Chair Dr Gary Banks AO, Chairman, Productivity Commission

The Hon Lindsay Tanner MP, Minister for Finance and Deregulation

Mr Henry Ergas, Regional Head Asia Pacific Region, CRA International
Title: Regulatory reform and Regulation Impact Statements: Challenges and future prospects (Presentation)

Dr Stephen King, Commissioner, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

Dr Nicholas Gruen, Chief Executive Officer, Lateral Economics
Title: Regulation and the dilemmas of central planning (Presentation)

3.15 - 3.30pm

Afternoon Tea

3.30 - 5.00pm

Session 9: Plenary

The Environmental Constraint

Chair Mr Matthew Warren, Environmental Writer, The Australian

Mr Peter Cosier, Director, Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists
Title: The Economics of Nature (Presentation)

Dr Steve Hatfield-Dodds, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems
Title: Winning the war against error ... reflections on prosperity and climate change (Presentation)

Mr Alan Johnston, Assistant Commissioner, Environmental and Resource Economics, Productivity Commission
Title: Towards urban water reform: a discussion paper (Presentation)

Mr David Pearce, Director and Principal Policy Analyst, The Centre for International Economics
Title: Emissions trading: some hard questions (Presentation)


Mr Mitchell Hooke, Chief Executive, Minerals Council of Australia

Professor Mike Young, Director, Research Chair, Water Economics and Management, The University of Adelaide
Title: A future-proofed Basin (Paper)

5.00 - 5.15pm

Closing Session


Mr Paul Kelly, Editor-at-Large, The Australian