In the face of the greatest public health crisis in a century, the Australian government, like others all over the world, has been forced to shut down whole sectors of the economy virtually overnight. The resulting collapse in economic activity—unprecedented in its speed and depth—threatens the livelihoods of millions of Australians. This has prompted the government to take bold steps to cushion the blow to the economy, centered around the $130 billion JobKeeper wage subsidy program. These measures are to be funded by a large increase in debt to be paid off over the coming decades, putting all the more emphasis on our tax and transfer system being fit for purpose. Join Robert Breunig and Steven Hamilton as they discuss the crucial role of the tax and transfer system during the COVID-19 pandemic and in dealing with its aftermath.
Professor Robert Breunig is one of Australia’s leading Public Policy Economists. His research is motivated by important social policy issues and debates, and his work is characterized by careful empirical study and appropriate use of statistical technique. Professor Breunig’s research agenda has led to many partnerships with government organizations in Australia and overseas and he works regularly with the Australian Treasury, the Department of Employment, the Department of Industry, the Department of Communication and the Arts, the Productivity Commission, the Australian Bureau of Statistics as well as many other agencies. He has been a consultant to the private sector on marketing, mergers, bank competition and customer loyalty programs.
Steven Hamilton is an Assistant Professor of Economics at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C, and Visiting Scholar at the Tax and Transfer Policy Institute at the Australian National University. Steven is a tax economist, and uses administrative tax data to uncover the responses of taxpayers to taxes, which can inform the design of better tax policy. He has a PhD and an MA in economics from the University of Michigan, and a First-Class Honours degree in economics from the University of Queensland. Steven is a former Australian Treasury official who worked on a number of federal budgets.