This report is the second in a series, undertaken at 5 yearly intervals. The first inquiry report, Shifting the dial, was completed in 2017.

The inquiry finds that productivity policy must focus on service industries to grow the economy and increase prosperity. To drive productivity growth, a services economy requires a highly skilled and adaptable workforce. This requires better teaching and innovation in schools, vocational education and training, and universities. Encouraging more tertiary education and lifelong learning will allow workers to obtain the skills they need for a modern economy. And more effective use of skilled migration will help boost Australia’s human capital. The report also considers a range of other topics such as harnessing the power of data and technology, encouraging innovation and achieving net zero emissions at least cost.

Volume 1 contains:

  • A narrative overview that provides the economic context for this inquiry, outlines the barriers to future productivity growth, sets out a policy agenda to overcome these barriers, and paints a picture about what the future could look like following reform implementation.
  • A roadmap that indicates to government which reform directives should be most highly prioritised. The roadmap also contains one page summaries of the details necessary for implementation of the highest priority reform directives.
  • The set of recommendations from across the report, aggregated into reform directives that are organised by broad policy theme. There are 29 reform directives made up of 71 separate recommendations.

Volume 2 discusses productivity as the key to Australia’s ongoing growth and prosperity, highlighting particular headwinds and challenges facing Australia’s productivity growth.

Volume 3 recognises that much of the productivity improvement will be determined by decisions of businesses and so the institutional, regulatory and tax environments in which businesses operate need to be conducive to productivity-enhancing changes. Governments can influence this environment through changes to policy settings for competition, trade and investment activity.

Volume 4  examines opportunities for Australia to get more value out of its data holdings by enhancing its secure use in developing innovative new products and services, and improving the productivity of service delivery. Enabling Australia’s communities — particularly in regional and remote areas — to benefit from digital tools and approaches, and supporting businesses to be cyber safe, will be key to ongoing digital progression.

Volume 5 details the underappreciated importance of the diffusion of innovative approaches and ideas throughout the economy. Options to encourage more diffusion of innovations are canvassed, including greater use of collaboration and networks to catalyse diffusion and foster spillovers in the private sector, and new funding and procurement models for diffusion in publicly funded and delivered services.

Volume 6 provides a path for Australia to respond to its climate change challenges at least cost for the economy and productivity. Reform of the safeguard mechanism for Australia’s largest greenhouse gas emitters is discussed as a way of helping Australia to transition towards a less costly and potentially more equitable response to climate change. Options for an efficient climate adaptation strategy are also outlined, focussed on information provision, and policy settings that support adaptation decisions and development pathways.

Volume 7 examines the settings in Australia’s labour markets that will be necessary to support renewed productivity growth. We detail reform options in skilled migration, occupational licensing and workplace relations, including in relation to platform-based work.

Volume 8 recognises the importance that quality education and training systems have for the skills and adaptability of our workforce. Innovation and its diffusion in schools is considered, in the context of making best practice in teaching, use of technology and school operation widespread. Improving the quality of tertiary education (both universities and vocational education and training) and options to support increased completion rates are considered.

Volume 9 describes the results of an economy-wide model used in the inquiry to contextualise how the benefits of a stylised representation of certain reforms would accrue and better understand some of the distributional impacts of these reforms. In particular, results were estimated for aggregate measures such as incomes, prices, wages and GDP; the differential impacts across various groups (delineated by age, gender and education); and measures of consumer wellbeing and income inequality.

Editor's note

This report was sent to the Australian government in February 2023, then tabled in Parliament and publicly released on 17 March 2023.

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