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Exports and immigrants have masked Australia's poor R&D record. Here are some simple fixes

By George A. Tanewski, Professor in Accounting, Deakin University
Andrew Conway, Adjunct Professor Deakin Univeristy & Chief Executive Officer Institute of Public Accountants, Deakin University
James Kavourakis, Research Fellow at the IPA-Deakin SME Research Centre, Deakin University
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Australia’s long run of economic growth from the early 1990s to early 2020 inspired much boasting by incumbent politicians.

But behind the hubris and headlines lies a less flattering story — about Australia riding a wave of dumb luck, with exports to China and relatively high levels of immigration masking mundane economic performance.

The most obvious expression of this is investment by Australia’s private sector — overwhelmingly made up of small-to-medium size (SME) enterprises — in innovation.

The sector’s expenditure on research & development — measured as…

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