Australian budget

The Australian Budget has a history of running small deficits and surpluses with occasional blowouts. Contemporary history has seen General Government net debt to GDP approach 20% under Labor in 1995 and the Coalition in 2017. In between, a Coalition government under Prime Minister John Howard and Treasurer Peter Costello ran surpluses sufficient to pay net debt down to zero during Australia’s mining boom.

Ratings agencies have adjusted the sovereign credit rating over time to reflect this ebbing and flowing of debt. In 1975, Standard and Poors rated Australia AAA. By 1989 the rating had dropped two notches to AA. It was subsequently upgraded again to AAA as the Howard Government operated consecutive surpluses.

The major vulnerability for the Australian Budget is the external imbalance in an economy that runs persistent current account deficits. Because Australian banks borrow so much money in international markets largely to fund domestic mortgages they are constantly at risk of international liquidity shocks.

The Australian Budget steps in with public guarantees to the banking system when this happens. Thus, although the Australian Budget has relatively low debt-to-GDP metrics, credit rating agencies demand that they remain that way to preserve the AAA rating as a backstop to bank borrowing.

Australian politics insists that Australia sustain budget surpluses ostensibly because it is equated with good economic management. In truth, the surplus is simply a figment of the property bubble at the heart of the Australian economy that requires the support of the tax-payer to persist. The Australian Budget is the key stone in the Australian credit arch.

In recent years the Australian Budget has deteriorated as the structure of the economy has left is denuded of growth sources. As the mining booms passed and the enormous household debt (186% of GDP) stalled consumption and investment, fiscal deficits became a key component in GDP growth.

As well, the disintegration of Australian political integrity associated with the end of the mining boom period doomed the Budget to successive regimes of neglect.

This very obviously undermined its role in the above system exposing Australia to deeper adjustments during future periods of global stress.

MacroBusiness covers all apposite data and wider analysis of these issues daily.


VIC Budget facing writedown as stamp duty receipts plunge

By Leith van Onselen With Melbourne dwelling values and property transactions falling fast: The Victorian Budget is facing a sharp revenue downgrade. From The Age: Economist Saul Eslake said the fall in property sales in Melbourne would have an impact on stamp duty revenue in the budget… It was highly likely that the treasury’s forecasts


Macquarie: Negative gearing reform easily absorbed

Via Business Insider comes some more modelling on negative gearing reform this time by Macquarie of the modelling done by Cadence Economics for Master Builder’s yesterday: Based on the evidence offered below from Macquarie Bank, it suggests the policy changes may not have that much of an impact on the broader Australian economy, even in


Confused government officials deny migrants have taken most jobs

By Leith van Onselen April’s joint Treasury/Department of Home Affairs propaganda report, Shaping a Nation, confirmed what many of us already knew: that most new jobs created have gone to migrants: Recent migrants accounted for two-thirds (64.5 per cent) of the approximately 850,000 net jobs created in the past five years. For full-time employment, the impact


Paul Keating: Slug workers more to pay for ageing

By Leith van Onselen Former Prime Minister, Paul Keating, seems to be losing his marbles in his old age, recommending that Australian workers get slugged another levy to cover ‘geriatric’ care for people aged 80-plus: Former prime minister Paul Keating has called for a national insurance scheme to help people pay for healthcare, accommodation and


Markets repulsed by Australia

Yesterday we saw China’s “whatever it takes” moment, via Bloomie: President Xi Jinping vowed “unwavering” support for non-state firms over the weekend, the country’s stock exchanges committed to help manage share-pledge risks, and the government released a plan to cut personal income taxes. That follows a rare coordinated effort from top financial officials on Friday to


NSW stamp duty receipts collapse

By Leith van Onselen The NSW Office of State Revenue has updated its stamp duty data for September 2018, which reveals that residential stamp duty receipts are crashing following a monumental five-year boom: As shown above, annual NSW residential stamp duty receipts ($6,517 billion) in September fell further from October’s all-time high of $7.516 billion;


Coalition Government quietly cuts R&D spending

By Leith van Onselen Back in December 2015, former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull launched his National Innovation and Science Agenda under much fanfare. According to Turnbull, this agenda “will invest $1.1 billion to incentivise innovation and entrepreneurship, reward risk taking, and promote science, maths and computing in schools”, and will include tax concessions and tax


Housing bubble creates headaches for Australia’s retirement system

By Leith van Onselen Over the Weekend, The SMH reported how rising household debts among older Australians could ultimately cripple Australia’s retirement system: The number of Australian homeowners over the age of 65 still carrying mortgage debt has trebled since 2002, raising concerns the nation’s retirement savings could be absorbed into the housing boom. In 2002


Telstra chief calls for $20 NBN price cut

By Leith van Onselen Telstra’s CEO Andy Penn has demanded a “more than $20” a month price cut to NBNs Co’s wholesale charges, claiming reseller charges are “rapidly falling to zero” and that the current pricing structure is unsustainable. From ITNews: “The price we charge our competitors for access to our network, when they provide


Senate pot legalisation bill goes up in smoke

By Leith van Onselen While the developed world is gradually legalising cannabis, it seems Australia will remain stuck in the dark ages with the Senate set to reject a private member’s bill to legalise recreational weed: “It is high time we stopped interfering in adult choices,” Senator Leyonhjelm told parliament on Monday. With the coalition


Coalition capitulates on GST

By Leith van Onselen The Morrison Government’s proposed changes to the formula for distributing GST revenue was rejected earlier this month by the majority of state treasurers. While the reforms received support from Western Australia’s Treasurer Ben Wyatt, the other state treasurers warned that the federal government must guarantee that no state or territory will


Experts rubbish Vic Labor’s $50b rail megaponzi

By Leith van Onselen After the Grattan Institute recently rubbished the Victorian Government’s announced plans for a $50 billion gigantic rail tunnel loop, claiming the project has been announced without Infrastructure Victoria’s expert advice and without conducting a business case, more transport ‘experts’ have cast doubt on the plan: Transport experts have questioned why it


Albo again demands high speed ponzi rail

By Leith van Onselen Labor’s infrastructure spokesman, Anthony Albanese, has repeated his call for a High Speed Rail (HSR) linking Melbourne and Sydney: Australia must start planning for a high-speed rail network along the east coast, says Labor’s infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese. Mr Albanese on Monday introduced a private bill to establish a high speed


Labor flags huge NBN writedown

By Leith van Onselen The federal Opposition’s communications spokeswoman, Michelle Rowland, says Labor is considering a writedown of the National Broadband Network (NBN) if it wins the next election. Doing so would make it easier for NBNCo to reduce the cost at which it sells broadband capacity to telcos, but it would also cause a


The “stupendous” consultancy spend milking taxpayers

By Leith van Onselen Over the past two years, various reports have emerged documenting the billions in taxpayer funds that have flowed to consultants, especially the Big Four accounting firms. In September 2016, Michael West reported how the Big Four accounting firms had taken corporate welfare to an extraordinary level, earning up at least $2.6


Some private health premiums could rise 12% next year

By Leith van Onselen Confidential Department of Health modelling has been released suggesting that private health insurance premiums could rise 12% next year if planned government changes go ahead. From The Canberra Times: The new system classifies insurance into four tiers – Basic, Bronze, Silver, and Gold – with much sharper clinical definitions of what


Labor pledges extra $14b for public schools

By Leith van Onselen Weeks after the federal government backflipped on the Gonski 2.0 needs-based school funding, increasing funding for non-government schools, the federal Labor Opposition has pledged an extra $14 billion for public schools over the next decade. From The AFR: The announcement, to be made by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Labor’s education


NSW Treasury spins WestConnex sale

By Leith van Onselen NSW Treasury deputy secretary, Phil Gardner, has spun the benefits of the $9.3 billion sale of 51% of WestConnex to Transurban. From The AFR: Mr Gardner told the inquiry into WestConnex that there would have been “extremely little appetite” from potential investors five to eight years ago to buy the motorway… The


Vic Labor to pork barrel private schools

By Leith van Onselen Weeks after the federal government backflipped on the Gonski 2.0 needs-based school funding, increasing funding for non-government schools, the Victorian Labor Government has done likewise: The Labor government said on Monday it would give $400 million over four years to the private school sector. The sum more than triples the $120


ATO tax avoidance measures net $5.6 billion

By Leith van Onselen Good news. The Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) has collected an extra $5.6 billion over the past two years through its multinational tax avoidance taskforce. From SBS News: A clamp down on tax avoidance by big corporations and wealthy individuals has allowed the Australian Taxation Office to rake in an extra $5.6


Anger erupts over WestConnex disaster

By Leith van Onselen Last month, the $17 billion WestConnex toll road and tunnel in Sydney was dubbed the “biggest misuse of public funds for corporate gain in history” by transport analyst Christopher Standen from the University of Sydney. This hideously expensive project will see existing free public roads like the state-owned M4 (that has already been paid off)