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Australian Federal and State Budgets – An Overview

7

The Howard government also proceeded to further dispose of major government owned instrumentalities. In 1997 it announced the first sale of 33% of Telstra. In 1999 a further 16% was sold. In 2002 the Howard government sold off Sydney Airport. Three years later (after gaining control of both Houses of Parliament in the 2004 election) the Howard government proceeded to sell a further 31% of Telstra, with the remaining 20% placed in a “Future Fund”. 34

During its three terms in office, the Howard government also proceeded to reduce general government sector net debt: from 19.5% of GDP (at the time that it assumed office) to a little over 5% in 2002 and to a position of negative net debt in 2005-06.35 There was a corresponding reduction in the number of treasury bonds on issue. These developments can be seen in the accompanying tables:

Australian Government General Government Sector Net Debt (as a Ratio of Gross Domestic Product): 2000-01 to 2006-07 36

2000-01

6.3%

2001-02

5.3%

2002-03

3.8%

2003-04

2.8%

2004-05

1.3%

2005-06

-0.4%

2006-07

-2.8%

34

Axel Burns and Leila Green, “.au: Australia: in Patricia Arinto and Felix Librero (eds.), Digital Review of Asia Pacific 2007-2008 (Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2008), p.90.

35

Fred Argy, Structural Fiscal Targeting and Good Governance (Graduate Program in Public Policy, Australian National University, Canberra, 2001), p.7. See also George Argyrous, Can Expenditure Cuts Eliminate a Budget Deficit? – The Australian Experience (School of Social Science and Policy, University of NSW, Sydney, 1998), p.16.

36

Commonwealth Government, Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook 2009-10 (Australian Government, Canberra, 2009), Appendix D, table D4, p.283.

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