A note to CIS friends and supporters

Tom Switzer

19 March 2020 | Ideas@TheCentre

These are deeply troubling times for Australia and the world. With nations locking down borders and cities, gatherings of 100 or more banned, stock markets falling, a new era of economic turbulence looms. That’s not to mention the deaths and illnesses that the coronavirus contagion has caused.

Watch my video on the challenges we face ahead, and how CIS will focus on policy to help Australia emerge stronger.

My CIS colleagues and I wish you all the very best wishes during these dark days. Although we are working from home, please rest assured we are here to help understand and navigate through this crisis and help Australia get back on track. Although we have had to cancel our March and April events (the BBC’s legendary broadcaster Andrew Neil, Thatcher biographer Charles Moore, US climate economist Jerry Taylor, among other guest speakers), we remain committed to producing sound evidence-based public policy research.

COVID-19 has not just damaged our China-exposed education and tourism sectors, as CIS research forewarned. The pandemic threatens to push Australia into a very serious recession. However, a crisis can force the political class to really shake things up – and make the country stronger and more prosperous.

At CIS, we’ve long supported policies to improve our nation’s economy and prosperity. And COVID-19, as I pointed out in the Australian Financial Review earlier this week, is an opportunity for our leaders to do the big things our nation has postponed for too long.

Beyond addressing short-term hardship and calming the panic, our leaders can try to boost business and public confidence with a wide-ranging structural reform agenda to improve the investment climate and liberate risk-taking: lower taxes, slash excessive regulatory red tape, reduce adversarial workplace regulation, loosen infrastructure bottlenecks, teach children basic skills essential for higher learning, fix the state-based payroll tax duties and stamp duties on property.

Why not, for a trial period, end our compulsory retirement savings system? Voluntary super would give individuals far more choice, independence and the option of spending their upfront wages, which would boost economic growth.

Such reforms would meet stiff political and public resistance. But they would improve the incentives to work, lift productivity, spur a revival in business confidence and competitiveness and strengthen long-term growth and living standards.

At CIS, we promote policies that will spur a revival in business confidence, fire up entrepreneurial energy, help the economy rebound, and drive investment for tomorrow’s growth and prosperity. We will help Australia emerge from this crisis in a stronger position.

Watch our event on coronavirus in China, the epicentre of the virus.




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