The 2022 Federal Budget

This MEF will examine and debate the federal government budget. With an upcoming election, rising cost of living pressures, a global environment of heightened macro and security uncertainty, and following two years of fiscal support through the pandemic, this budget must navigate a challenging array of competing objectives and pressures. This MEF will examine the economic environment in which the budget will be delivered, the budget’s macroeconomic implications, potential monetary policy / budgetary policy interactions, debt sustainability, and the inferences to be drawn on the election policies of the major parties from the budget and budget reply.

Unpacking the 2022 Budget: Implications for the Economy and the Election (Danielle Wood)

The Budget and Macroeconomic Policies (Professor Guay Lim)

The 2022 Economic Outlook (Associate Professor Janine Dixon)

The Labour Market after the Pandemic

This MEF will examine both the short-term and enduring impacts of COVID-19 on the Australian labour market.  It will consider lessons for policy makers, covering labour market, macroeconomic and immigration policy.

COVID-19 and the Australian labour market: outlook and lessons (Professor Jeff Borland)

The future of casual employment (Professor Mark Wooden)

Implications of reduced immigration in the post-Covid workforce
(Associate Professor Janine Dixon

How should skilled migration change post COVID? (Brendan Coates)

Budget 2021/22 – A new focus on families?

The 2021 budget includes initiatives on women’s health and economic security, and promises increased spending on child care as one of its major policy announcements – a marked shift from last year’s budget, which was widely criticised as lacking a targeted response to the pandemic’s gendered labour market impacts, and the stress it caused families with caring responsibilities. Overall, will families that care for children or the elderly be better off now, and how does this vary along the income distribution? Can we expect improvements in women’s workforce participation and employment, and will the balancing of family responsibilities and work life become easier?

Budget 2021/22 – A new focus on families?

Economic Implications for Australia of the EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism

In simple terms, a carbon tariff is a tax on foreign imports based on their CO2 content. Such tariffs are designed to level the playing field for domestic import-competing industries whose costs have risen due to a domestic CO2-price levied at the point of production. It is argued that carbon tariffs are necessary to avoid “carbon leakage” – local production shutting down and moving to countries without strong climate policies.

The European Union and Britain have both made commitments to make significant emission cuts by 2030 (55% and 68% compared with 1990 levels, respectively) and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. As part of its commitment, the EU president, Ursula von der Leyen, proposed a tariff – known as a carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM). The proposal was strongly endorsed by the European Parliament’s environment committee, and is due to be tabled in parliament this year.

The question addressed in this paper, is what effect an EU CBAM will have on the Australian economy. Using the Victoria University Regional Model (VURM), we evaluate those effects through to 2050 based on an EU CO2 price rising from its current level of around $70 a tonne to $120 per tonne in 2050.

The Effects on Australia of EU Carbon Tariffs

Economic implications of carbon neutrality in China

China aims to curb greenhouse emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. Using a newly developed economic model of China, CHINAGEM-Energy, we investigate the economic implications of China’s carbon neutrality path over the period 2020 to 2060. To achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, China must change its energy structure significantly. Coal and gas consumption must decline dramatically, while demand for renewable energy, especially solar and wind, must expand.  In broad terms, dramatic carbon emission reduction has only a mild negative impact on China’s real GDP. China can still grow strongly, while reaching carbon neutrality by 2060. However, China’s import demand for fossil fuel will fall significantly. Since China is the second largest destination of Australia’s coal and gas exports, China’s movement to carbon neutrality implies declining demand for Australia coal and gas in the long term.

The Economic Implications of Reaching Carbon Neutrality in China

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Australian Economy

The Treasurer’s economic statement of 23 July 2020 highlighted the extreme uncertainty surrounding the macroeconomic outlook globally and nationally, with the course of the economy being profoundly influenced by the course the COVID-19 pandemic might take. Yet we know we are experiencing the deepest national and global recession since the Great Depression.

 Will it be a V-shaped recovery, or U-shaped, L-shaped or possibly W-shaped involving a double dip? As recovery begins, more of those workers who gave up searching for jobs when the COVID-19 lockdowns began will be encouraged to re-enter the labour market, adding to the pool of unemployed. When might unemployment peak?

Australia’s services exports, including inbound university students and tourists and professional services exports such as engineering services, will be hostage to ongoing international travel restrictions. What effect will those restrictions have on national prosperity?

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Australian Economy

Understanding Australia’s Poverty Issues: A Multi-Dimensional Matter

The Forum will touch on what we know about poverty from a macro and micro economic perspective as well as take a look at some of the issues that are linked to addressing matters related to poverty.

Understanding Australia’s Poverty Issues: A Multi-Dimensional Matter


The Banking Royal Commission has been scrutinising the behaviour of banks and other financial institutions. It will make recommendations to the government on reforms to the financial sector. The Melbourne Economic Forum will discuss possible reforms.


The Economic Challenge for the 45th Parliament

The Forum will address the economic policy challenges facing Australia in the aftermath of the federal election.

Medium Term Scenarios for the Australian Economy (Janine Dixon)

Economic Challenges Facing the 45th Parliament (Dr David Gruen)

Tax Reform

Since tax reform remains an ongoing policy issue, this Forum builds on the excellent discussion at the December Forum.

A Cut to Company Tax Will Boost Production But Reduce Incomes (Janine Dixon)

Lower Personal Income Tax Rates (John Freebairn)

Modelling the Impacts of a Cut to Company Tax in Australia (J.M Dixon and J. Nassios)

Thoughts on Federal fiscal arrangements and taxation (Ross Garnaut)