The Australian Financial Review editor-in-chief Michael Stutchbury outlined the challenges associated with serious economic reform and the “widespread disillusion” with the current functioning of our political system at the launch of the National Reform Summit today.
The Australian and The Australian Financial Review united to co-host the depoliticised, “DIY summit” aimed at finding common ground to address the challenges of Australian economic reform.
“Blame the shallowness of the 24/7 news cycle, the inadequacies of modern political leaders or the failings of today’s youth. But we all can see that it hasn’t been working for several years,” Mr Stutchbury said.
“Importantly no significant economic policy reform has been sustained since the Howard government’s GST in 2000 and even that remains contested. And other big bang policies have been summarily reversed.
“So for The Australian Financial Review and The Australian, this is a summit we would rather not have to have.
The National Reform Summit can today be live streamed here.
The summit is expected to produce a series of statements and recommendations that both newspapers believe should be acted upon by the Australian government and nation. It will be presented to the government.
Co-convenor of the summit, Menzies Research Centre chief executive Nick Cater said the Australian media, contrary to expectations, was ready for a robust and responsible discussion. “That discussion however cannot take place if we’re not prepared to put aside sectional and partisan interests for the greater good of the country,” he said. Mr Cater is also a columnist on The Australian.
The all-day forum will feature 80 leaders from major groups and a number of presentations from business entities including the Business Council of Australia, the Productivity Commission and the Reserve Bank of Australia.
While Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott delivered a video message from the Torres Strait, and Treasurer Joe Hockey and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten gave opening addresses, the summit was designed to not be a forum for political grandstanding.
After presentations by business leaders, the summit will move to four in-depth sessions tackling lifting productivity and workforce participation, fiscal policy, tax reform and sustainable retirement incomes policy.