Australian economy risks 'genuine crisis': report

Monday, 27 March 2017

Tony Shepherd speaking on Sky News (click image above)


Prominent businessman Tony Shepherd warns the Australian economy risks a 'genuine crisis', although he won't go as far as calling it a 'banana republic' as Paul Keating once did.

But he does believe Treasury's assumptions for a balanced budget by 2021 are 'heroic' because they rely on the maintenance of an expanding economy and the Senate passing measures to support fiscal consolidation.

Mr Shepherd is spearheading a review into shoring up Australia's future through incentivising taxes, accountable government, affordable energy, open trade and an imaginative and creative market.

Mr Shepherd told Sky News Business the review will take up to six months.

 'Our panel for this review is a cross section of society. It includes young people, people from small business... and also a good cross section of the community.

'Change can only be achieved if the community understands the problems and accepts the solutions,' Mr Shepherd said on Monday, warning of declining jobs, low wage growth and unaffordable energy if the country fails to act.

Mr Shepherd said the review will be interactive and won't be 'handling down tablets from the sky' in response to a declining 'trust in the political class'.

In an independent review of the national commission of audit he conducted in 2014 for the coalition government under Tony Abbott, Mr Shepherd said the burden of national debt made Australia increasingly vulnerable to external shocks.

Even though the nation was about to overtake the Netherlands to rack up 26 years of uninterrupted economic growth, many Australians believed they weren't getting ahead.

'Unless we can get growth going again, unless we can get growth in real wages going again, unless we can get more permanent and real jobs going again, I think we do risk a real crisis,' he told ABC radio on Monday.

The review carried out by a panel headed by Mr Shepherd through the Menzies Research Centre says the budget suffers from a structural deficit and the level of government spending is 'simply unaffordable'.

'If Australia's structural deficit continues to grow, it will compound the nation's fiscal deterioration and ultimately limit the government's options with respect to its discretionary spending,' the review says.

Asked to respond, Treasurer Scott Morrison said the government was getting the budget under control.

'We have the current projection to get it back into balance in 2021. That hasn't shifted a day since I have become treasurer and we remain very focused on that,' he told Sydney radio 2GB.

The review also questioned the government's reliance on volatile personal and company taxes, suggesting a broader-based GST.

But Mr Morrison told Sky News the GST issue was resolved a year ago and any extra revenue would be 'hoovered up' in compensation.

Labor frontbench Doug Cameron said the review was a re-run of the former Abbott government's badly received 2014/15 budget.

'So I've got no time for Tony Shepherd and his approach on this,' Senator Cameron told reported.




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