06.05.2021From the CEO – 6 May 2021

Budgets are key events in our political and economic calendar. They are even more important in these pandemic times.

The Committee provided its pre-budget submission to Treasurer Tim Pallas in April and we have dedicated this edition of Communique to coverage of our recommendations.

We hope that the Victorian Budget on 20 May will be visionary as Victoria looks to rebound from the worst effects of the pandemic. The budget must include support for our vital sectors such as international education and tourism, and look beyond traditional investments in roads and rail, towards productive enterprises like advanced manufacturing, new technologies, renewable energy, affordable housing and AI.

But first we will watch with interest the budget which Treasure Frydenberg will hand down on 12 May. We hope and expect considerable alignment between the federal and state jurisdictions in the sectors we have identified, all of which require some measure of federal/state financial and regulatory collaboration, underpinned by investment and clear national policy settings.

Australia and New Zealand have done better than most in managing the COVID-19 health crisis, which presents us with an unprecedented opportunity to secure economic resilience and competitiveness.

That said, the international health crisis has severely curtailed critical export earners such as international education and the visitor economy. COVID-19 has deepened the geo-political instabilities and the tensions with Australia’s largest export destination, China. Jurisdictions must work together to diversify our international export markets.

COVID-19 has thrown into sharp focus the importance of structural reforms to underpin sustained economic recovery in priority physical and social infrastructure sectors. These include the creation of a renewable and circular economy, social and affordable housing, optimal population distribution and growth, skilled migration to support innovation and the economy, diversification of export markets and better coordination between cities and regions.

Our ANZ Cities and Regions network recently called for cooperation by all levels of government, industry and community stakeholders to build the standards and plans that will drive our social and economic recovery. We called for consistent standards for a recovery roadmap to protect and support our communities while balancing economic opening and recovery efforts. Confusion in and delays on the vaccination rollout and differing responses to quarantine and lockdowns exemplify the negative consequences for economic recovery and competitiveness of not taking a common approach and applying common disciplines.

But it’s also time to party again. We look forward to seeing you at our famous Annual Dinner on 1 September, so save that date!

Happy Reading

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