Aust productivity rate poor: Parkinson

Supplied image of former Federal Treasury Secretary Dr Martin Parkinson speaking at a business leaders' forum at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. (AAP Image/Queensland University of Technology, Profile Photos, Roger Phillips) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

(Australian Associated Press)

Australia must face up to its poor productivity and confront the reasons behind it, the nation’s former chief economic advisor Martin Parkinson says.

Dr Parkinson acknowledged Australia has seen a marked slow-down in productivity over the past decade, not helped by complacency which has spread over a longer period of economic growth.

“Why is it that we’ve been unable to foster an entrepreneurial, innovative culture and how do we go about doing that?” the former federal treasury secretary told the QUT Business Leaders’ Forum in Brisbane on Tuesday.

But he warns there’s no silver bullet to overcome the problem because of its multiple origins.

“If you want to think about how to improve productivity, you need to think about our approach to innovation policy, science, technology and engineering, education,” he told reporters.

“You need to think about infrastructure. You need to think about taxes. You need to think about IR.”

Dr Parkinson, who joined treasury in 1981 and served as secretary for more than three years until late 2014, said Australia was at a junction where it could benefit from the wealth of opportunities from a shift in economic weight away from the Atlantic.

But Dr Parkinson said such a change constituted the “complete rewriting of the very rules that have underpinned the world order since the end of WWII”.

“However, the complacency engendered by 24 years of uninterrupted economic growth is fostering an insular attitude throughout Australian society,” he said.


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