INTHEBLACK September 2021 - Flipbook - Page 18
// T I M E S T H R E E
COMPILED BY JOHANNA LEGGATT
many scientists warn that COVID-19 will not be the last
or the worst pandemic of our lifetime. Is there a way to
pandemic-proof our economies?
C E O , T H E G R AT TA N I N S T I T U T E
The health of the economy hinges on the health of
the population. The international evidence in the past
18 months tells a consistent story – countries that did
a better job of containing the virus have had better
economic outcomes. This illustrates the benefit of
strong containment measures in the early stages of
an outbreak, even if those containment measures
have an acute short-term cost.
The lockdown has been the most prominent
containment measure during COVID-19, but Australia’s
geography affords it earlier lines of defence. The
absence of land borders makes strict border controls
feasible, but the efficacy of this strategy requires
airtight quarantine arrangements and efficient contact
tracing. Australia should continue to invest in both.
COVID-19 has also highlighted the need for greater
sovereign capabilities in areas such as vaccine
manufacture, and there should be consideration given
to the manufacturing capability or stockpiling of vital
health equipment and personal protective equipment.
As Australia’s COVID-19 recovery progresses, the
government should continue to invest in jobs and
growth, with a medium-term fiscal strategy of stabilising
and reducing debt as a share of the economy over time.
Finally, policymakers should learn from their real-time
experiments in designing emergency economic
supports. The Australian JobKeeper payment proved
a very effective scheme, but the federal government
should review the lessons from the wage supplement.
One criticism of the scheme is that it ended up
supporting a lot of businesses that fared well, and any
future schemes could incorporate payback mechanisms
should business revenues be higher than expected.
As Australia’s COVID-19 recovery progresses,
the government should continue to invest in jobs
and growth, with a medium-term fiscal strategy
of stabilising and reducing debt as a share of the
economy over time.
18 ITB September 2021