When I spoke with Scott Emerson on his 4BC Drive program last Thursday, I mentioned the federal Treasury would be currently working on options to extend JobKeeper in some form to tourism-dependent businesses. The Treasury has been prominent in developing the economic response to COVID-19, as it was during the global financial crisis of 2008-09.
In his excellent 2019 history of the Treasury, Changing Fortunes, former senior Treasury and PM&C official Paul Tilley wrote in the introduction:
Treasury has been at the heart of government in Australia since Federation, and central to economic policy making in the post-World War II era. It has been confidante, adviser and protagonist to governments – but it’s influence has waxed and waned.
Treasury’s influence is clearly waxing right now, but will it remain influential post-COVID? Will Treasury advise future governments to get their budgets under control and stabilise and ultimately reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio, and will that advice be followed? Or is Treasury too close to the government nowadays to provide frank and fearless advice?
Paul expresses some firm views on the relationship between Treasury and the government in his book, and we touched on this relationship in a podcast conversation we had earlier this week: Economics Explored EP77: The Role of the Treasury in Economic Policy with Paul Tilley.
Please check it out and let me know what you think. Also, I can highly recommend Paul’s book to anyone interested in economic policy or Australia’s economic history – really to anyone interested in Australian history, given Treasury’s importance in that history. As Paul notes in his book, “Treasury was one of the seven government departments established at Australia federation in 1901, tasked with establishing a budget for the new Commonwealth Government.” Treasury is an institution that is incredibly important in the history of Australia.
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