Interview with ABC Radio’s Steve Austin on “The time Australia’s Treasury almost ran out of money”

I had a nice chat with 612 ABC Brisbane’s Steve Austin last Friday morning regarding my time in the Australian Treasury, particularly during the financial crisis in 2008-09, and focusing on what he described as:

The time Australia’s Treasury almost ran of money

The Australian Government didn’t run out of money, of course, because in late 2008 the Australian Office of Financial Management (AOFM), attached to the Treasury, projected the coming cash crunch, and the Government would announce an Updated Economic and Fiscal Outlook in February 2009. This update revealed the Australian Government would be going into deficit, and implied we would need to start selling a lot of bonds very quickly to fund those deficits. It also featured a massive $42 billion stimulus package, the Nation Building and Jobs Plan. I talked to Steve about my role during that period.


The Australian Treasury on Langton Crescent in Canberra’s Parliamentary Triangle

Note that, toward the end of the interview, I was confused by what was a very good question from one of Steve’s listeners. The listener asked whether the ATO fills out a Business Activity Statement (BAS). I’d now revise the answer I gave to this question, because the ATO would be paying GST when it purchases goods and services, and even though the GST paid would come back to it, it would need a way of accounting for it, so it may well lodge a BAS, or have an internal process that replicates it (hat tip to my colleague Zac for pointing this out). I will investigate further, as it really is an intriguing question.

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