Pre-Budget submission

Professionals Australia has made a Pre-Budget submission calling for stronger investment in STEM workforce as part of our reconstruction efforts.

Australia is experiencing a significant downturn in economic activity with high levels of unemployment, underemployment (working fewer hours than wanted) and a long-term decline in GDP growth expectations as the waves of the COVID-19 pandemic unfold. Australian GDP growth slowed to 2.3 per cent in the 2019 financial year and is likely to fall well short of the 2.75 per cent predicted for the 2020 financial year. 

It is clear that the pandemic will have a major impact on the STEM labour market in the coming 12 months and beyond but the magnitude of the changes, the long-term impact on employment levels in particular industries and labour market segments, the extended outlook for particular skill sets and industries, when business activity and confidence are likely to stabilise and the speed of the recovery are obviously all difficult to forecast. Professionals Australia will prioritise safeguarding livelihoods and protecting pay and conditions amid the dramatic collapse in revenue across industries. We will aim to advocate for policy measures in areas that will positively impact both the economy and the operating environment for our members which is, of course, our key purpose.

COVID-19 has changed the way we approach policy reform. We need an integrated, fair approach that prioritises addressing the impact of record job losses – an approach that protects and creates jobs for those who have lost their livelihoods and safeguards the pay and conditions of those still employed. Governments must make informed decisions about what to do in the face of larger debt and a depressed economy, how to approach wage growth in the face of what was already record low wage growth before the pandemic, how to prioritise economic growth whilst maintaining a commitment to protective health measures and how to restore business and consumer confidence over the longer-term.

We need an approach that balances debt reduction with targeted stimulus measures and accepts that government intervention and strategically-directed public investment is needed. We need to support striving for what's possible and attainable in the short-term with a longer-term vision. We need an approach that acknowledges that austerity measures - reducing government expenditure, lowering wages, cutting taxes, selling assets and lowering service standards - are not the answer. They would be counter-productive to Australia's economic recovery.

Read the top 10 budget priorities here and the submission here.