Stephen Koukoulas: Q&A Review

Stephen Koukoulas: Q&A Review

By Stephen Koukoulas


A terrific panel of economists sparked a terrific discussion on immigration, the multi-speed economy and a host of other economic and policy matters.A bright and colourful crowd ensured a hearty discussion with a range of views and questions that could have continued well into the evening.The session highlighted that all forms of economics and the policy settings that surround the quest for growth, jobs,Minimum wages are, for example, a good idea, but the question is the level that they are set.  Immigration is a fantastic policy, but how many extra people can Australia accommodate each year?  What should be the mix between skills and humanitarian immigrants?  Then there are questions about where taxes need to be raised and also, what is the role of government in society?decency and prosperity is never black and white – there are always shades of grey in policy formulation.

This is where economics gets political.  The two are inextricably interlinked.  It is impossible to have an economic philosophy without a political underpinning.  Economic decisions require trade offs; there are winners and losers.  But in a rich, decent society like Australia, there should be compassion, a helping hand, a redistributive effect that only a government can provide.

Can economics deal with environmental issues?  Of course it can.  Price signals are the eighth wonder of the world.  Price something higher – cigarettes and carbon – and demand for those products will fall and there will be clear benefits for all.

Good luck to the ESSA and well done for hosting this terrific event.  I was flattered to be on the same panel as Max Corden and Neville Norman – two wonderfully bright and erudite speakers.  Even if I didn’t agree with everything they said, I certainly had respect for their views.  So too with the other panelists were bright and provocative.  All up, a great event.