Speech Summary Demographics, Productivity and Innovation

The speech discusses the potential links between demographic developments and factors that affect the potential to continue to raise living standards in Australia – such as productivity growth and attitudes to risk and innovation.

The speech begins by comparing demographic trends in Australia with those in other developed economies and notes that the Australian population has risen at a faster rate than almost any other country in the OECD. The diversity of Australia's current population and the high share of immigrants is also highlighted.

Turning to productivity growth, the speech details the challenges in this area and underlines the importance of lifting productivity to avoid a slowdown in living standards. Differing views on why Australia's productivity growth has slowed are explored. The speech emphasises that irrespective of which viewpoint is correct, productivity growth is determined by the ability to innovate, manage risk and respond to changing circumstances.

The speech then considers attitudes towards risk and innovation and proffers that society is increasingly focused on risk mitigation and control. It suggests that attempts to reduce risk should be balanced against other factors, such as implications for productivity growth. The speech then raises the possibility that an ageing society could become more risk averse and outlines the challenges that this could present in generating productivity.

Countering this assessment, the speech concludes by discussing how the unusual demographic trends in Australia could promote innovation. In particular, it emphasises the likely contribution of new skills and ideas offered by immigrants. Finally, it underlines the importance of building on such advantages and strengthening opportunities to innovate which it is hoped will support a continued growth in living standards.

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