RBA chief tells Crawford Forum Australia must embrace technology

19 June 2017

We need to be aware that the drivers of growth in our economy are changing.

Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe has warned that Australia must embrace changing technology and invest in human capital if it wants economic growth to continue.

Speaking at the ANU Crawford Australian Leadership Forum, Mr Lowe said that while Australia was currently riding the wave of global economic pickup, at some stage that upswing will run its course and Australia will need to stand on its own two feet.

"I find it hard to escape the conclusion that a starting point must be a very heavy investment in human capital and the creation of a culture that promotes innovation," Mr Lowe said.

"We need to be aware that the drivers of growth in our economy are changing. Natural resources remain the main source of exports, but Australians are increasingly employed in the service industry.

"Right across the spectrum, no matter what industry you're talking about, competitive advantage is increasingly built on technology and management capability. That trend isn't going to go away.

"If we are to grow strongly in the future, then that growth will be built just as much on the quality of our ideas as it is on the quality of our natural resources," he said.

Mr Lowe said that while Australia's long-term prospects remain positive, we need to keep working to ensure that potential is realised.

"As things currently stand it looks likely that average growth of per capita incomes over the next quarter century will be lower than it was over the last quarter century," Mr Lowe said.

"We should be capable of stronger growth than we have seen over the past few years but we can't take that for granted."

The Crawford Australian Leadership Forum is Australia's leading public policy conference, which brings together 150 experts from politics, government, business and academia.