Student Recap – ESSA Q&A

The word is in from the students – ESSA’s inaugural Q&A was a resounding success. Featuring some of the University’s most famed economists (Max Corden and Neville Norman) and some of the nation’s leading economic commentators (George Megalogenis, Stephen Koukoulas, Stephen Long and James Paterson), it was an event, from my perspective, full of high-spirited discussion and insightful analysis about where Australia is as a country and as a world-leading economy.

But what did the students, those studying economics and planning their future careers in the field, learn from this pre-eminent panel? The discussion post-event and on Twitter amongst the student body was highly spirited and complimentary of the breadth and depth of discussion.

For Kevin Vuong (Economics Honours student and Macroeconomics Tutor) found the discussion on the Australian Dollar the most insightful of the evening. The discussion, centered around the impact of the Minerals Boom on other sectors of the economy, was lent considerable academic heft by Corden’s, the pioneer of the Dutch Disease Model of resource booms, presence on the panel. One of the more unconventional ideas from the discussion between the panel and the students was about the possibility of the Reserve Bank intervening to manipulate the exchange rate and take a more activist role in the currency market.

For Matthew Weiss (3rd year Economics/Finance), who was tweeting throughout the evening @MatthewTWeiss, his issue of concern was education and how improving teacher quality could have a positive impact on the productivity of the Australian economy. He was impressed with the diversity of responses from the panel who all understood the importance of reform via the Gonski Review despite its political impracticalities.

Thinking more broadly about the event, Elizabeth Crick (3rd year Economics/Finance) was most impressed by the honesty of the panel in assessing the issues that face the Australian economy currently (on both the feature topics of the evening – Immigration and the Two-Speed Economy). For Elizabeth, the extra discussion on why these necessary policy reforms aren’t occurring now was of particular interest. This idea of the political impact upon broadly agreeable economic principles was a recurring theme from everyone interviewed post-Q&A.

Whilst the debate amongst the crowd post-event was spirited, it was the discussion on Twitter that truly affirmed the quality of the Q&A. @MartinKeetels hailed it as a “great debate” and @NatalieViselli was glad to be in Melbourne to listen to the thoughts from “great minds on the panel” that @sam_i_am_dada thought were “nicely balanced” between left and right.

And whilst @MatthewLesh wanted some more varied opinions on the panel (one such proposal was Bob Katter) surmised the evening as “interesting, informative and entertaining” and “significantly better than the usual talking points you get from ABC’s Q&A.”

In and amongst this high praise the last word goes to @RoyChan1, “can’t say there’s anything other event at uni similar to it! Keep up the good work ESSA!”