New Outlook

Thursday, Oct 29, 2015, 06:08 AM | Source: Pursuit

By Paul Jensen

New Outlook

What's important to Australia right now? Where should the Government be focusing its energy? What do Australia's thought leaders consider the key social and political issues facing the country in the future?

The 2015 Economic and Social Outlook Conference, in Melbourne on November 5-6, will answer some of those questions, with new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in attendance.

The cream of Australia's political, business and social worlds, policymakers and academics come together to discuss the future of Australia and the biggest issues of the day.

"After a period of relative policy inaction, the community are now excited about exploring new frontiers of policy-making and innovation," says Professor Paul Jensen, Acting Director of the Melbourne Institute at the University of Melbourne.

The conference gives Mr Turnbull, who took over as Prime Minister from Tony Abbott in September, a key opportunity to show his cards to a cross section the Australian policymakers, Professor Jensen says.

"There is an increasing appetite amongst our new government ministers to seek out fresh, new ideas," he says. "The conference will provide a platform for all of these new ideas to to be discussed.

Here is a place these decision-makers can really hone in on what's happening around the country and discuss these ideas with Australia's top thinkers from political, economic and social backgrounds.

Speakers at the two-day conference include Glenn Stevens, Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Professor Deborah Cobb-Clark, Peter Harris, Chairman of the Productivity Commission, Senator Penny Wong and Lin Hatfield Dodds, National Director of Uniting Care Australia.

"Australia doesn't have anything else like this – where politicians, policy makers, analysts, commentators and academics come together to exchange ideas – it covers the entire economic and social landscape of Australia," Professor Jensen says.

"Having all of the main players in the room - from advocates to evidence makers - provides a unique opportunity to reinforce the linkages between all of these parts in the policy making process."

With topics ranging from inequality, the welfare system, federation, tax reform, retirement, higher education and policy implementation, the conference has broad appeal and anyone in the policy-making chain, from employer groups to industry, should be involved in the discussion.

"It's not just the dry, hard economic discussions we always hear about – say tax reform - we also focus in on social issues such as homelessness, equality and poverty," says Professor Jensen.

"This enables key issues to be really brought out into the open and, particularly with the new line-up in parliament, ensure those key issues will be the focus of future policy discussions."

"What we aim to do is generate new thoughts on policy and provide information about Australia today and where we are headed.

"In collaboration with David Uren at The Australian, we've designed an event that provides a holistic view of the art and science of policy making. At the end of the day, we want a more engaged academic and policy making bureau."

This is the only event in Australia that has so much political gravitas."

The Economic and Social Outlook conference is co-hosted by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research at the University of Melbourne and The Australian. November 5-6, Grand Hyatt, Melbourne.

Tickets and full program available at: https://www.ivvy.com/event/ESOC15/

WE'LL BE LIVE BLOGGING FROM THE EVENT. FOLLOW THE PROCEEDINGS HERE!