This is the first document of its kind for the Productivity Commission — a look out across the landscape of factors and influences that may affect Australia’s economic performance over the medium term, in order to offer advice on where our priorities should lie if we are to enhance national welfare.

And it’s a process to be repeated every 5 years, similar to the Australian government’s Intergenerational Report.

The Terms of Reference for this work is couched in terms that emphasise Australia’s recent and prospective productivity performance. But they ultimately arrive at the reason why we are — or should be — so interested in this subject: the wellbeing of Australians is substantially and inextricably dependent on persistent growth in productivity.

When productivity leaps in Australia, all incomes eventually rise. And particularly where effective redistribution and social support policies are in place.

Productivity improvement also offers benefits outside the scope of economic performance measures. People’s average life expectancy at birth has increased by nearly 30 years from Australia’s federation in 1901 — an outcome of innovation and investment in public health, education and research, and the introduction of new technologies to replace outdated (and some quite dangerous) old technologies.

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