OECD Economic Surveys: Australia 2017
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OECD Economic Surveys: Australia 2017

Australia’s economy has enjoyed considerable success in recent decades, reflecting strong macroeconomic policy, structural reform and the long commodity boom. Living standards and well-being are generally high, though challenges remain in gender gaps and in GHG emissions. The economy is now rebalancing following the end of the commodity boom, supported by an accommodative macroeconomic stance and currency depreciation. The strengthening non-mining sector is projected to support output growth and spur further reductions in unemployment. Low interest rates have supported aggregate demand but are ramping up investor risk taking and putting pressure on the housing market.
Improving competition and other framework conditions that influence the absorption and development of innovation are key for restoring productivity growth. Innovation requires labour and capital markets that facilitate new business models. Productivity growth could be boosted through stronger collaboration between business and research sectors in R&D activity.   
Australia’s adjustment to the end of the commodity boom has not been painless. Unemployment has risen, and inequality is rising. In addition, large socioeconomic gaps between Australia's indigenous community and the rest of the population remain. Developing innovation-related skills will be important for the underprivileged and those displaced by economic restructuring and can help reduce gender wage gaps.

SPECIAL FEATURES: INNOVATION-DRIVEN PRODUCTIVITY; BOOSTING R&D OUTCOMES

  
 

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Boosting R&D outcomes You do not have access to this content

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R&D activity can play a central role in raising productivity. Australia compares well in terms of research excellence. However, there is scope for better translation of publicly funded research into commercial outcomes. Strengthening incentives for collaborative research is essential. A simpler funding system for university research that provides sharper and more transparent incentives for research partnerships is important in this regard. Research-business linkages would also be boosted by more effective programmes encouraging business to collaborate, measures promoting greater mobility of researchers between the two sectors, and steps to ensure that intellectual property arrangements are not a barrier to knowledge. In Australia financial support for encouraging business innovation relies mostly on an R&D tax incentive; raising additionality and reducing compliance costs would enhance the effectiveness of the scheme. Maximising the benefits from public investment in research further hinges upon a well-coordinated science, research and innovation system through a whole-of-government approach and consolidating certain programmes. Reform initiatives underway, notably those in the National Innovation and Science Agenda, are welcome.

 
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