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Australian Federal and State Budgets – An Overview

3

2005 (NSW) the term is defined to include:

all liabilities of the general government sector (such as unfunded superannuation and insurance liabilities) less all financial assets held by the general government sector (such as cash, advances and investments except for the Government’s equity in the public financial enterprise sector and the public trading enterprise sector).

Total Asset Management: This refers to a planning method for capital acquisition and operation for all government departments.

General Government Net Sector Worth: In s 4(1) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2005 (NSW) the term net worth is defined to mean “total assets less total liabilities as described for GFS”.

3

COMMONWEALTH GOVERNMENT BUDGETS

During the early 1970s the budgets of the McMahon government were in surplus, as were those of the first years of the Whitlam government. In its 1974-75 budget, however, the Whitlam government recorded a deficit of around $2 billion (4% of Gross Domestic Product). The following Fraser government (elected at the end of 1975) continued to produce budgets in deficit during the remainder of the 1970s, as highlighted in the following table:

Federal Government Budget Deficits as a Percentage of GDP: 1976/77- 1978/79 11

1976-77

3.1%

1977-78

3.4%

1978-79

3.1%

Between 1980 and 1982 there was a worldwide slump in business conditions. In New South Wales, General Motors announced (in July 1980) that it would close its Sydney assembly plant.12 BHP also began to experience difficulties. Jenny Stewart wrote that, “Unemployment in the industry spread rapidly in Newcastle and Port Kembla. Three thousand jobs were shed between June 1981 and May 1982, and a further 2,700 between May and September 1982.” 13

During the same period the Fraser government moved to reduce the deficit. By 1981-1982 it had been reduced to 0.3% of GDP, as illustrated by the table below:

11

Peter Walsh, Confessions of a Failed Finance Minister (Random House, Sydney, 1995), p.37.

12

Frank Crowley, Tough Times: Australia in the Seventies (William Heineman, Melbourne 1986), op.cit., p.398.

13

Jenny Stewart, The Lie of the Level Playing Field: Industry Policy and Australia’s Future (Text Publishing Company, Melbourne, 1994), p.142.

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