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1370.0.00.002 - Measures of Australia's Progress - Aspirations for our Nation: A Conversation with Australians about Progress , 2011-12  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/05/2013   
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Image - MAP, EconomyECONOMY

Australians aspire to a strong economy that provides the opportunities and resources to support sustained individual and societal well-being

Economy – the system of markets (e.g. goods, money, labour markets) which can be affected by market controls (e.g. taxes and interest rates).These together generate production, stimulate consumption, and balance economic activities, so that Australia’s population has access to income and wealth (in the form of assets) and the opportunity to consume goods and services.

Opportunities

Australians aspire to have the economic opportunities they need to thrive.

  • Employment
  • Business
  • Standard of living
  • Capabilities
  • Reduced complexity
Many people in the consultation recognised the importance of the economy in increasing the well-being of Australians. This was understood as people having the opportunities, means and ability to have a high standard of living and lead the kind of life they want and choose to live. This may include people having employment or business opportunities, income, services, skills and knowledge to secure their well-being and the well-being of their loved ones. At the same time, people thought that the economy, or aspects of it, should not represent barriers in the pursuit of well-being, for example by making information or procedures unnecessarily complex or difficult.

Jobs

Australians aspire to an economy that provides them with quality jobs.
  • Income
  • Job satisfaction
  • Flexible arrangements
  • Safe and healthy working conditions
  • Effective industrial relations environment
Many in the consultation said that paid work is important to people’s lives, to the economy and to society overall. It was seen to provide individuals with income, a sense of identity and purpose and a way they can contribute to society. Paid employment is closely linked with economic growth and is the basis of societal productivity and resourcefulness. This aspiration sees a successful economy as one that provides jobs that ensure people’s safety, their right to fair treatment and protection, a sense of economic security and an effective industrial relations environment. People thought that quality jobs also allow people to balance their work life with other commitments, provide adequate pay for work done, and are rewarding in a non-material sense.

Prosperity

Australians aspire to a prosperous and efficient economy.
  • Efficient workforce
  • Efficient use of resources
  • Access to resources
  • Innovation for efficiency
  • Competition
  • Effective regulation
An aspiration that recurred during the consultation was that the Australian economy continues to thrive and function well. This included having an economy that uses both labour and other resources efficiently, that is able to access the right resources needed for production purposes at the right time without impediment, that can improve the productivity of work processes (for example by harnessing new technology) and can compete in an increasingly globalised marketplace. Many thought that economic efficiency relied on well constructed regulation that helps rather than hinders this functioning.

A resilient economy

Australians aspire to an economy in which people can manage risk and be resilient to shocks.
  • Flexibility
  • Insurance
  • Stability
  • Prudent financial sector
  • Information
In response to recent global economic downturns and natural disasters, many in the consultation aspired to an economy able to cope with unexpected crises and to maintain a good standard of living for Australians. This included an economy able to be flexible in its responses and in the way in which it can draw on resources, so that it is protected against risk. People also said it involves having a broad level of economic stability that enables the building up of resources that can be used in a crisis. Having knowledge of vulnerabilities and opportunities within the economy was also seen as important.

A sustainable economy

Australians aspire to an economy that sustains or enhances living standards into the future.
  • Buying power
  • Government finances
  • Economic resources
  • Environmental resources
  • Human resources
  • Innovation for change
Sustaining economic performance over the long term was seen as important. During the consultation, people said they wanted an economy that meets the needs of Australians today without compromising the needs of future generations. They felt this may mean sustaining the resources, services and infrastructure that underpin social functioning, and protecting, managing and using these sustainably. People thought innovation was important in an economy to improve productivity and to find solutions to economic, social and environmental challenges.

Fair outcomes

Australians aspire to an economy that supports fair outcomes.
  • Living standards
  • Equity
  • Disadvantage
  • Shared contribution and responsibility
A recurring aspiration was the idea of ensuring all Australians shared equitably in economic progress. People were concerned about disadvantage and inequality and wanted to ensure all Australians had basic standards of living. This was expressed in terms of people having opportunities for improving their well-being, regardless of differences in education, socioeconomic background or other factors. An important aspect of this aspiration was that individuals, the government and private sectors should share responsibility in contributing to these balanced economic outcomes.

International economic engagement

Australians aspire to fruitful economic engagement with the rest of the world.
  • Development and maintenance of trade relationships
  • Migration and tourism
  • Uphold international responsibilities and cooperation
  • Sharing of knowledge and ideas
Australia is a part of the global economy. While there were different ideas on what international economic engagement would look like, many people saw it as a positive thing for Australia. Positive interactions may include trade relationships or Australia being a destination for visitors and migrants. They might also involve Australia being open to giving and receiving ideas and sharing knowledge and experience. It also includes Australia’s response to its international economic obligations and responsibilities.

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