24 August 2023

Opinion piece: Intergenerational Report is about owning our future


Published in The Australian Financial Review

The Intergenerational Report I release today is about identifying the big shifts that will shape our economy into the future.

If we’re going to make the most of this defining decade in our history and help more Australians to grasp the vast opportunities on offer in the more prosperous and productive economy we’re creating, we need to better understand the imperatives and opportunities of the next 40 years.

We don’t want Australians to be victims of the economic transformation ahead of us, we want Australians to be beneficiaries.

We don’t just want to be shaped by the forces influencing our economy, we want to own our future – and that’s what the Intergenerational Report is all about.

It’s about how we can best lay the foundations for broader long‑term success in our society, informing our decisions and economic reform.

We have a big economic agenda which centres around our ambition for a more prosperous and inclusive nation.

Our reform agenda is focused on eight priorities.

Our first priority is to ease the cost of living. While inflation is moderating, the inflation fight is not yet won.

Whether it’s cheaper childcare, cheaper medicines, more bulk billing or help with energy bills, our primary focus is easing price pressures for Australian families and small businesses.

We’re getting the budget in better nick through spending restraint and responsible economic management that would be completely unrecognisable to our predecessors. By returning 87 per cent of revenue upgrades to the bottom line across two budgets, through spending restraint and making modest but meaningful changes to our tax system, we are building a budget that better funds and delivers the services Australians need and deserve.

We’re maximising the opportunities that will come from the net zero transformation – unlocking investment in cleaner, cheaper energy and building clean industries, leveraging international action like the US Inflation Reduction Act to benefit Australian businesses and boost our competitiveness, and better co‑ordinating opportunities for workers and regions through our new Net Zero Authority.

We’re building a bigger and better‑trained workforce – giving parents the chance to work more if they want to through cheaper early childhood education and care and more parental leave, and equipping more Australians with the skills they need to flourish and prosper with improved access to TAFE and university, with a focus on courses that help people to adapt and adopt technology.

We’re broadening and deepening our industrial base – through one of the biggest investments in peacetime manufacturing in Australian history.

We have the chance to do more than just rip and ship our minerals – we can mine, refine and manufacture them as well, creating more jobs and more opportunities for more Australians into the future.

Our critical minerals strategy will help us to leverage traditional strengths into new ones as we rethink and redefine what it means to be a resources powerhouse.

We’re getting capital flowing, and we’re investing in growing areas of national priority like energy and housing – using co‑investment, tax incentives, superannuation, and our work with international partners as well as through the federation to drive capital into our economy and towards a better future.

We’re designing more efficient markets, including through a competition review that will focus on boosting dynamism and competition, and our efforts to modernise the payments system.

And we’re reforming our economic institutions – renewing the Reserve Bank and refocusing the Productivity Commission.

We’re also establishing new approaches to address entrenched and intergenerational disadvantage through place‑based policy, introducing gender‑responsive budgeting, and planning better across the federation to address population pressures and improve liveability, including in areas like housing, skills, the NDIS and infrastructure.

After a wasted decade of division and drift that left us with a trillion dollars of debt, with not enough to show for it, we’ve taken a different approach.

We don’t have to choose between giving a bit of help to those who need it most and reforming our economy – we have proved that we can do both.

We can take care of the here and now while also keeping an eye on the future.

We can deliver cost‑of‑living relief for millions of households and small businesses at the same time as we lay the foundations for growth in our economy.

By doing all of this reform – broadening and deepening our industrial base, building a bigger, better‑trained workforce more capable of adapting and adopting technology, and getting capital flowing where it delivers the best returns and the most benefit to the nation, we will be maximisers of change, not just managers of change, in the decades to come.

This is our blueprint for the future.

It’s about understanding the big trends and transitions and acting on them.

We’re turning pressures into prescriptions, options into opportunities and turning our geological, geographical and meteorological advantages into technical and geopolitical advances.

The Intergenerational Report will help us make the most of what’s ahead of us.

The future belongs to Australians. Our reform agenda is all about building a better future for all Australians.