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The Evolution of Fiscal Policy in Australia

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  • David Gruen
  • Amanda Sayegh

Abstract

This paper examines the evolution of Australian fiscal policy and the fiscal policy framework over the past quartercentury. Following the early 1980s recession, a sustained fiscal consolidation saw the general government budget balance (for all levels of government) move from a deficit of 3� per cent of GDP in 1983/4 to a surplus of 1� per cent 5 years later in 1988/9. A severe recession in the early 1990s interrupted this process, and the budget returned to sizeable deficits which peaked at 4� per cent of GDP in 1992/3. The second half of the 1990s saw a repeat of the experience a decade earlier, with the budget returning to surplus in 1997/8. In contrast to the 1980s experience, however, the general government sector (for all levels of government) has recorded surpluses for the subsequent 8 years to the present. The paper outlines Australia's macroeconomic experience over this time and argues that there have been two significant medium-term factors motivating the extended periods of fiscal consolidation. The first factor, relevant since the mid-1980s, has been the large Australian current-account deficits since that time, and the associated build-up of net foreign liabilities. The second factor, which entered the public debate more recently, is a desire to provide fiscal policy flexibility to respond to the ageing of the population and the projected rising public cost of health services--both influences that are likely to be of increasing importance over the next generation or so. The paper discusses the introduction and evolution of Australia's medium-term fiscal framework which has been put in place to respond to these challenges. Copyright 2005, Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Oxford Review of Economic Policy.

Volume (Year): 21 (2005)
Issue (Month): 4 (Winter)
Pages: 618-635

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Handle: RePEc:oup:oxford:v:21:y:2005:i:4:p:618-635

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  1. W. Max Corden, 1991. "Does The Current Account Matter? The Old View And The New," Economic Papers, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 10(3), pages 1-19, 09.
  2. Gabriele Galati & Guy Debelle, 2005. "Current account adjustment and capital flows," BIS Working Papers 169, Bank for International Settlements.
  3. Makin, A.J., 1988. "Targeting Australia’s Current Account: A New Mercantilism?," Economic Analysis and Policy (EAP), Queensland University of Technology (QUT), School of Economics and Finance, vol. 18(2), pages 199-212.
  4. David Gruen & Tim Robinson & Andrew Stone, 2005. "Output Gaps In Real Time: How Reliable Are They?," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 81(252), pages 6-18, 03.
  5. J. D. Pitchford, 1989. "A Sceptical View of Australia's Current Account and Debt Problem," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 22(2), pages 5-14.
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Cited by:
  1. Brittle, Shane, 2009. "Ricardian Equivalence and the Efficacy of Fiscal Policy in Australia," Economics Working Papers wp09-10, School of Economics, University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia.
  2. Eric M. Leeper, 2009. "Anchoring Fiscal Expectations," Caepr Working Papers 2009-015, Center for Applied Economics and Policy Research, Economics Department, Indiana University Bloomington.
  3. Neil Dias Karunaratne, 2008. "The Polemics and Empirics of the Sustainability of Australia’s Current Account Deficit - Revisited," Discussion Papers Series 364, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
  4. Jonathan Kearns & Philip Lowe, 2011. "Australia's Prosperous 2000s: Housing and the Mining Boom," RBA Research Discussion Papers rdp2011-07, Reserve Bank of Australia.

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