13 - Conclusion

The Commission supports the Government in its commitment to get the nation’s fiscal house in order.

This report has laid out a broad reform agenda that recognises the legitimate role of government and sets the Commonwealth budget on a more sustainable path.

We have to restrain spending, rebuild our financial capacity and restore the buffer needed to shock-proof the economy from a future crisis.

The Commission has made 64 recommendations across a range of activities and programmes. These savings, or other savings of a similar magnitude, are needed to deliver a surplus of 1 per cent of GDP by 2023-24.

The aspiration is for more responsible government – to spend taxpayers’ money wisely and focus more on what governments should do, rather than on those things that citizens can best do for themselves.

The Commission believes that ‘business as usual’ is not a viable option for Australia. Unless we take action now, there is a very real prospect of an unprecedented run of budget deficits and a build up in net debt. This would place a significant burden on future generations to bring the Budget back under control.

Achieving the target surplus will require a significant reduction in spending, while holding to a discipline that taxes rise no higher than 24 per cent of GDP. The Commission’s proposals can be implemented incrementally and in a way that does not harm the economy. In fact, taken together they should strengthen the economy.

Australia needs to embark on a path of reform and renewal. Restoring the nation’s finances can be achieved through a concerted effort to restrain spending assisted by fiscal rules that set some reasonable boundaries around government.

Good government breeds confidence.

Governments that successfully manage their own affairs set an example to the rest of society about their ability to cope with economic and social challenges.

We must face up to the task.