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Win-Win for Economics Grad

Alumni News

Rupturing her Achilles tendon while playing netball during her honours year was not enough to stop Curtin alumna Kristina Primus from being a mover and shaker.

Kristina Primus

Following surgery, Primus clicked straight back into gear, not only writing a thesis which won  the prize for the best economic honours thesis in Western Australia but also earning the Economics Society of Australia (WA) prize for top economics honours student at Curtin.

Always passionate about economics, Primus studied a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in economics and international relations, and graduating in 2016 with first class honours. Although she knew she had put in tremendous effort, receiving the awards was still a big surprise.

“I was excited and shocked. I knew I had done well and was really proud of my efforts, but I had no visibility of the awards previously, nor did I know that my thesis was chosen to represent Curtin in the state competition,” says Primus.

“Receiving the awards was an extremely proud moment for me, I worked really hard and it felt so rewarding to be recognised like that.”

Primus’ thesis considered decentralising income taxation as a potential solution to Australia’s high vertical fiscal imbalance, which occurs when the Commonwealth collects the majority of national revenue, leaving state governments with insufficient funds to make autonomous decisions when financing local needs.

“The model developed in my thesis compares welfare outcomes arising under Australia’s current partially centralised system, with outcomes from a decentralised system in which the states levy independent tax rates and provide public goods,” explains Primus.

Primus discovered that while decentralising income taxation could improve social welfare in federal economies where states are characterised by relatively small resource differences, the partially centralised scheme is the optimal policy choice for the Australia federation from an aggregate social welfare perspective.

“Although governments should implement policies to maximise societal welfare, my results show that political failures may impede a government’s choice to implement such a policy and demonstrate how political conflicts of interest are likely to arise,” she says.

Primus’ thesis provides much needed theoretical perspective to the topical issues of fiscal federal reform and the resumption of state-levied income taxation in Australia.

She now works as a consultant in the Economics, Regulation and Policy Group in EY’s Perth Infrastructure Advisory team, where she assists in providing economic analysis and modelling services, and regulatory advice on major infrastructure projects to a range of clients, with a particular focus on the transport and energy industries.

“The EY team does some really innovative and diverse economics work across a broad range of sectors. They have a strong reputation and there is a great energy in the team. It is a fast-paced, yet flexible environment where you are constantly learning and working on different things.”

Primus says working in her family’s real estate business and interning at EY while studying gave her confidence working in a business environment and dealing with clients.

“The technical skills I learned in the coursework component of my honours year and the writing skills I developed studying international relations and writing my thesis have provided me with important skills required to carry out my current role at EY,” she says.

She is adapting to working to an extremely busy schedule and, having come so far, is looking forward to a holiday in Vietnam – the next item in her bucket list.

“The first few months at EY were like a whirlwind. Looking back after nearly a year in my first job out of university, I realise how much I’ve developed and am amazed by the opportunities I continue to be exposed to.”

Graduate snapshot

Name: Kristina Primus

Studied: Bachelor of Commerce (Economics and International Relations) (Honours)

Graduated: 2017