Phil Ruthven debunks the myths that continue to dominate discussions about the future growth of Australia’s economy


Phil Ruthven is a Member of the Order of Australia, in recognition of his significant service to business and commerce, and to the community.

Myths, gossip, rumours, scandals and old wives’ tales can be very real in the telling; and we tend to believe a lot of them until debunked. After all, they are often interesting, entertaining and believable.

However, when discussing the future of Australia’s economy isn’t it better to stick to the facts?

We’ve handpicked a few surprising (and common) myths that Phil Ruthven has recently debunked.

  • Australia needs a big population to compete in a globalizing world

Not true. Around 18 of the 20 countries with the highest standard of living in the world have a population less than Australia’s. The only populous countries in the top 20 are the US and Germany.

  • Australia will run out of workers due to the ageing population

Not true. As this century unfolds, working beyond 65 and up to 75 years of age or more (often on a part time or casual basis) is realistic and achievable for a workforce where the brain is the muscle we rely on most. The fastest way to wear the brain out is to stop using it.

  • There won’t be enough jobs due to immigration, technology, robots and artificial intelligence

Not true. Immigrants usually take the jobs Australians don’t like. On top of this, when a migrant family arrives, they create a demand for more jobs than they can fill for at least five years in terms of the needed infrastructure and annual consumption expenditure.

In addition, humans as a whole are very good at creating jobs. Over the past five years we have created eight times more jobs than we have lost. There are millions of jobs in the making to replace those lost through technology and digital disruption.

  • Australia could become the food bowl of Asia

Not true. Australia doesn’t have enough water. That said, we will probably increase our output this century by fivefold as we did in the 20th century, but that will only feed 5% of the Asian population at the end of the 21st century.

  • Housing is now dangerously unaffordable

Not true. It always was unaffordable for the newly marrieds, the unemployed and the less well off, so what’s new? Interestingly, the debt-servicing ratio (interest payments as a share of disposable income) for mortgage and other debt is currently as low as it has ever been in four decades.

So, despite these urban myths, is Australia’s economic future looking positive? Phil says it is. He says that the best economic growth is yet to come.


This article has been written with reference to an article written by Phil Ruthven in the November issue of the Australian Institute of Company Directors magazine. You can read the full article and other interesting pieces here

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Phil Ruthven debunks the myths that continue to dominate discussions about the future growth of Australia’s economy