In today’s address to the Per Capita Reform Agenda series, the Prime Minster said that, while there is a lot of debate about the sustainability and predicted level of China’s growth, she still expects the demand for resources to continue and commodity prices to remain high.

However Ms. Gillard acknowledged there was a “patchwork of effects and pressures” on the economy sustained by the rise of the Australian dollar and the fact that “money runs and people run” to the growth industries – both of which challenged other parts of the economy.

At the event hosted by Corrs in Melbourne, she said the Government needed to be more finely calibrated in its thinking about regions and individual industries. This was in contrast to the traditional view that a Federal Government only needed to get the macroeconomic indicators right and the rest would sort itself out.

Ms. Gillard said that some targeting was already being done through economic development work in regions and good public-private industry partnerships around innovation, but there would be increasing emphasis on targeting regions and industries in the future.

Corrs CEO, John W.H. Denton, called on the Prime Minister to oversee the production of a white paper to examine the structural implications of China’s growth on the Australian economy.

In closing remarks, Mr Denton said Australia had not fully grappled with the opportunities and implications of the dramatic rise in China’s power and economy.

A white paper, which should be led by the Prime Minister and Cabinet, would assist Australia in optimising future opportunities arising from China’s growth.

In a wide-ranging speech covering the Federal Government’s record of economic reform, Ms. Gillard also emphasised the importance of creating more opportunities and choices for the two levels of older Australians – the Baby Boomers and their parents.

Next week the Federal Government will release the Productivity Commission’s report on Australia’s aged care system.

Mr Denton also called on the Prime Minister to lead structural reform of the Commonwealth at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) later this year.

He said restructuring needed to ensure the Commonwealth would continue to make sense. The two areas which should be at the forefront were business-to-business relationships -- like the links of Australia with India and Africa -- and person-to-person engagement through the Commonwealth Games.

The event was organised by Per Capita, an independent progressive think tank.

Left to right: Corrs Partner & CEO, John W.H. Denton; Prime Minister Julia Gillard; Per Capita Executive Director, David Hetherington; and Per Capita Chair, Joshua Funder.

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