Roaring ’20s or wasted decade: Budget to decide

Australia’s economy faces either a decade marred by ‘epic policy failures’, with stagnant economic growth, or a scenario reminiscent of the roaring 1920s, with the upcoming budget critical to getting the country back on track, a think tank states.

A report released by the Blueprint Institute states that the Liberal Party now has the opportunity to turn around years of poor economic growth, leading the country into more prosperous times.

Despite Australia looking likely to be on the road to recovery, with business confidence and labour figures bouncing back, report lead and Blueprint Institute’s chief economist, Steven Hamilton, opined “normal isn’t good enough”.

“Our economy was barely growing as the crisis struck. Investment, productivity and wages were all languid,” he said.

Instead of returning to normal growth, the economist said, Australia should look to set itself up for the next decade.

“The decade we have is up to us. Just as the last roaring ’20s – in the shadow of World War I and the Spanish Flu pandemic – were an era of rapid economic and cultural change, these ’20s can be roaring, too,” Mr Hamilton said.

“This Budget Blueprint offers ideas for how we could pop the cork, with four policy areas showing tremendous potential to open a new golden era.”

Sparking the next boom

Mr Hamilton believes that in order to ‘spark the next boom’ Australia should now focus on its innovation, technology and the arts.

As part of this, Australia should establish a research institute for sudden catastrophes to protect against the next COVID.

The government should also waive minimum investment taxes to kickstart R&D while establishing a $3 billion endowment to help Australia’s creative industries through annual grants.

“We need smarter policies to spark the next boom. And we must make sure a future sudden catastrophe doesn’t put it at risk,” Mr Hamilton said.

Igniting the next boom

Despite rising government debts, the government is being advised to avoid austerity and raising taxes in order to pay the debt back.

As part of the next booming decade, the Blueprint Institute said Australia should have a $3,000 flat deduction for taxpayers putting hundreds back into workers’ pay packets.

According to the institute, Australia should also look to increase the controversial JobMaker scheme, but remove the age restrictions.

“As we emerge from the pandemic with record public debt, the focus should be on raising revenue in the way that best enables paying it down. That means raising more revenue more efficiently, and shrinking public debt as a share of the economy via rapid economic growth,” Mr Hamilton said.

Powering the next boom

After decades of inertia on climate policies, Australia runs the risk of being increasingly isolated when it comes to climate action.

The Blueprint Institute noted that Australia needs to phase out coal, triple green R&D spending, develop EV charging infrastructure and have a diversification plan for fossil fuels.

“We should also position ourselves to take advantage of the new opportunities a net-zero economy promises,” Mr Hamilton noted.

Nurturing the next boom

To continue Australia’s economic prosperity, the country needs to invest in the next generation, the institute noted. 

“Our early learning system is anti-productivity. Early learning is not affordable for many families, creates disincentives for parental work, and harms childhood development. Wholesale reform is needed to nurture young minds and unleash a new wave of economic growth,” Mr Hamilton said.

As part of the changes, Blueprint suggests introducing a default, free pre-kindergarten for kids aged three to five to “level the playing field for all children”

Parents with children under three would meanwhile be eligible for a “streamlined” and means-tested single payment to support their childcare payments. Under the scheme, childcare would become tax-deductible.

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Article by Cameron Micallef on

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