The Communiqué released by the Prime Minister following the inaugural meeting of the National Panel for Economic Reform is welcomed by Microsoft Australia. It reiterates the importance to Australia of instituting policy and management reforms across the economy that focus on the goal of achieving long-term productivity gains.

While some may see the goal of ensuring Australia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per person is in the world’s top 10 by 2025 as lacking some ambition, Microsoft recognises the true scale of this challenge. Across the globe deployment and adaption of information technologies and the determined pursuit of post-industrialisation by many developing nations will inevitably result in very serious challenges for Australian businesses seeking to serve not only foreign markets but increasingly domestic ones as well. Increasing productivity and thus raising our national income capacity is vital to creating future opportunities for Australia.

The Panel’s recognition that improved economic performance should occur in the context of improvements in equity, participation and reduced disadvantage is also an example of clear thinking and Australian values. Raising productivity will need to become a national culture for there to be long-term and sustainable benefit. That will only be possible through policies and decisions by leaders across the country that put people first. A critical acknowledgement needs to be that productivity is always driven by the choices of human beings. Facilitating and supporting those choices offers every enterprise – public and private – the means to productivity improvement.

Today and into the future, the use of information technologies will present a clear opportunity to raise individual and collective productivity. As a company at the forefront of investment in, and delivery of, information productivity tools and productivity enhancing software and devices, Microsoft understands both the potential and challenges of technology. We know that to make the most of a technology investment there has to be investment in human skills and support for innovation and creativity. We also understand that as our community becomes more technologically dependant there are many in our midst who are either becoming or who already are marginalised and sometimes ostracised by technology’s ubiquity. Access is a key equity issue.

Microsoft welcomes the Panel’s inaugural Communiqué and offers the panel its full support in fulfilling the work program it has identified and, in particular, in pursing long-term productivity transformation for Australia. It is Microsoft’s hope that the Panel will be a major source of constructive, substantive and enabling advice to the Government – and that the Government will give due regard to the advice of the Panel.