Some of the nation's most respected economic leaders, policy thinkers and industry representatives, will be coming together to canvass Victoria's economic prospects at the Victoria at the Crossroads? Conference in Melbourne this Thursday and Friday 23-24 August 2012.
The conference aims to address questions such as "What is the right direction for our state?" with keynote speakers including the Australian Prime Minister, The Hon Julia Gillard and Victorian Treasurer, The Hon Kim Wells; as well as Bill Evans, Chief Economist Westpac; Elizabeth Proust, Company Director; Adele Ferguson, Senior Business Writer; and Howard Ronaldson, Secretary, Victorian Department of Business and Innovation.
Sessions will be chaired by Andrew Holden, the Editor-in-Chief of The Age; Professor Peter Dawkins, Vice-Chancellor, Victoria University; George Pappas, Chairman of the Committee for Melbourne, and Chancellor, Victoria University; and The Hon Lindsay Tanner, Vice-Chancellor's Fellow at Victoria University.
Chairman of the Committee for Melbourne and Chancellor of Victoria University, George Pappas says that despite Victoria's obvious economic strengths there is anxiety about the future. "Victoria's past economic performance has been strong enough to give us confidence that we can withstand external shocks and continue to prosper – so why the pessimism?" he said.
Fuelling the concern of Victoria's business leaders and economic commentators are underlying concerns about the high Australian dollar; the downturn in manufacturing and processed food exports; the decline in international education; and slowing in the construction and retail sectors.
Director of the Centre for Strategic Economic Studies at Victoria University, Professor Bruce Rasmussen said, "The trends in Victoria are far from clear. Employment growth has flattened out. Construction, transport and retail are in decline, while key service sectors such as professional services – including accounting and law - continue to power on, growing at 4% over the past twelve months."
The conference asks the question – "Do these concerns reflect an alignment of short term factors or are there deep underlying and long term issues involved?"
Solutions to be discussed include the possibility of productivity enhancing infrastructure investment and making the most of opportunities in overseas markets for sought after Victorian food manufactures, architectural and urban design services, or innovative technologies. Governments need to build on necessary partnerships with the private sector to realise opportunities.
Editor-in-Chief of The Age, Andrew Holden, will be chairing a session on Vision for Victoria – A way forward. He said, "Melbourne may have been confirmed as the world's most liveable city, but that does not stop the need for us to work hard on ensuring the whole state has a vibrant, economic future."
The conference will address fundamental issues – risks and opportunities; state economic policy; role of state and federal government; and demography, infrastructure and urban planning.
Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Dawkins said, "The aim is to identify a number of key strategic issues for Victoria, that the Committee for Melbourne can continue to explore and discuss with governments and that Victoria University can assist with relevant research."
Media are welcome to attend
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