It’s hard to know exactly who to trust when it comes to productivity growth in Australia.
If you take your cues from Treasurer Joe Hockey, then the country is currently in the midst of a “productivity crisis”, where nothing should be spared in our bid to dig ourselves out of this lull.
Yet if you head over to the website the Australian government is using to entice foreign investment into the country, AusTrade, then it’s quite a different story. According to the chart below, which AusTrade sourced from Deloitte, only four industries are performing below global competitor standards in terms of productivity. Everything else is doing quite well, especially our mining sector.
(Source: AusTrade 2014 Benchmark Report, click to enlarge)
It’s all well and good to put the best stats forward when promoting Australia to the rest of the investment world. But is it too much to ask that the government at least ensure it’s telling the Australian public and the wider international investment community the same thing?
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Clarification: After the publication of this article, Deloitte spokeswoman contacted Business Spectator to clarify the graph seen in this story.
Despite appearances and the title of the graphic, the graph does not compare Australian industry to overseas industry productivity. Instead it contrasts industry productivity to a country’s overall productivity where that sector is known to exist. This is because international sector to sector comparison data in does not exist in some instances.
For example: in the case of mining, Australia’s mining sector’s productivity is ranked against a raft of developing countries (where mining is most common) overall productivity, leading to it being the highest ranked sector in the above graph.
This point is clearly marked in the appendix of the Deloitte report from which the graph was originally sourced. Despite the point impacting the intended meaning of the graphic above, it was not included or alluded to with the replication of the data on the AusTrade website and in the Benchmark 2014 report.