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States should take bigger role in economic recovery: AustralianSuper’s Russell

AustralianSuper chairman Don Russell wants state and territory governments to take a bigger role in helping struggling industries and creating a pipeline of infrastructure projects backed by the country’s $3 trillion superannuation pool to aid the economic recovery.

Dr Russell, a principal adviser to former treasurer and prime minister Paul Keating during the 1990s recession, said the coronavirus crisis had shown the need for premiers and chief ministers to get more involved in the economy rather than relying on the federal government.

Dr Don Russell was an adviser to Paul Keating during the 1990s recession and is now chairman of AustralianSuper.

Dr Don Russell was an adviser to Paul Keating during the 1990s recession and is now chairman of AustralianSuper.Credit:Ben Rushton

“Traditionally economic management has been seen as a federal matter but … because so much of the virus response was focused on state responses, the premiers will be required to take responsibility for how their state comes out of the recession on the economy side,” Dr Russell said. “I suspect there will be a lot of pressure on the states.”

State and territory governments choosing to take a hard line on border closures at the expense of local industries, such as tourism, would be expected to financially support the sectors harmed by their decisions, he predicted. In particular, he referred to Queensland, where the tourism industry significantly contributes to the state’s income and tough border restrictions are in place.

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