The Evolution of Fiscal Policy in Australia
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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References listed on IDEAS
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- 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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- Edward Nelson, 2004. "Monetary policy neglect and the Great Inflation in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand," Working Papers 2004-008, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
- Guy Debelle & Gabriele Galati, 2007.
"Current Account Adjustment and Capital Flows,"
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Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(5), pages 989-1013, November.
- 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.
- 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.
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