Australia is one of the richest nations in the world. Living standards and educational levels are high, borrowing costs, inflation and unemployment are low, and we are living longer, and in general, healthier lives than we have in the past [PC17]. Australia’s medium-sized $AU 1.7 trillion economy (ranked 14th in the world) has proven resilient, thanks to the global commodities boom. Australia has also avoided recession, recording 26 straight years of economic prosperity [OCE16, II18].
Over the last few years however, wages have plateaued, despite labour productivity growing annually by 1.8% [PC17]. To maintain the current standard of living, Australia needs productivity to grow 2.5% a year, ergo reliance cannot be on current labour productivity alone. According to the Australian Productivity Commission, the key to improving Australia’s productivity lies in applying new knowledge and technologies. Robotics are at the forefront of technologies that can deliver the required productivity gains. They are among the first ‘new’ technologies mentioned in the text of the National Research Infrastructure Roadmap [NRIR16], which notes the potential of these technologies, particularly in relation to manufacturing and natural resources.
If Australian companies embrace automation through robotics at the same rate as international peers, productivity growth can be increased by over 50% [ALB17]. Discussion of automation generates a focus on two major societal risks, unemployment and increased inequality. These risks will be discussed further in this Chapter.
Australia’s $1.7 trillion
economy has been proven resilient, thanks
to the global commodities boom.
Australia has recorded
26 straight years
of economic prosperity