Can we make the economy work better for families?

Plenary panel session
Wednesday 25 July, 1545 – 1715

FACILITATOR
Virginia Trioli, ABC journalis

PANELISTS
Dr Richard Denniss, The Australia Institute
Professor Lyn Craig, University of Melbourne
Professor Janeen Baxter, Life Course Centre, University of Queensland
Dr John Hewson AM, Former Leader of the Federal Opposition, Professor and Chair of the Tax and Transfer Policy Institute, Australian National University

Background
A host of changes are transforming the advanced economies of the 21st century. The emerging gig economy; shrinking manufacturing industries; globalised labour; the rise of automation, robotics and artificial intelligence; social media and start-ups. All signal highly dynamic, unstable, and complex networks of production and consumption.

But are families keeping up with these transformations? Do the old arrangements – working hours, wages, the social safety net, housing, education, child care – still hold up?

And how sustainable is for families to individually manage the converging pressures of housing unaffordability, the costs of living, including childcare, insecure employment and saving for retirement – together with the day-to-day pressures of family life?

Despite the many changes to our economy, neo-liberalism – open markets, privatisation, the citizen as consumer – remains the dominant economic orthodoxy framework for thinking about the issues. Is it time to reconfigure these relationships and their assumptions? If we could start from scratch, how would we design the economic engine of society to make the economy work for families?

Panel Purpose
The purpose of this panel is to stimulate debate and discussion about the relationship between families and the economy. The session will be facilitated by Virginia Trioli, who will lead a Q & A panel discussion with our four panelists.