Productivity is the single most important determinant of economic growth and living standards in the long-term. Higher productivity means our businesses are more efficient and competitive on a global stage, with a flow-on effect to increased household incomes. As productivity growth remains uncertain globally, the need for governments to make good policy choices is accentuated. While our productivity performance in recent years is in line with the historical average, there remains a longer-term need to boost productivity to support living standards given the previous beneficial impacts from terms of trade and the population are waning.
There is also an ongoing need to ensure competition is maintained through well-functioning markets and regulatory arrangements. These also help support productive development, consumer confidence and assist governments to address economic challenges. As part of this, the work of the Australian Government Actuary, in relation to actuarial and related policy advice, assists government agencies to quantify risks and make informed decisions. In addition, the work of the Takeovers Panel supports the efficient, competitive and informed market for corporate control.
In 2018–19, and over the forward estimates, we will:
- Provide high-quality, influential and timely advice to the Government on:
- Policy processes and reforms that promote sound corporate practices, remove impediments to competition in product and services markets, and safeguard the public interest in consumer protection and Australia's national interest in foreign investment.
- Policies that support the economy being more productive, adaptable and resilient, including on foreign investment and the financial system, such as providing submissions to the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry and supporting the Government's response to its report when delivered.
- Taxation settings that ensure revenues to fund government services are raised at least cost to the economy.
- Policies that remove barriers and improve incentives for firms to compete, innovate and increase choice and benefit for consumers, including leveraging digital technologies and data.
- Supporting efficient spending on and use of infrastructure, including transport, energy and communications.
- Managing effective change in regions and industries (specifically in agriculture, communications, energy, environment, transport and for small business), while considering equity and transactional impacts.
- Where structural reform efforts should be focused in the current economic and political context to make the economy more productive, adaptable and resilient.
- Ensuring regulation focused on firms is fit-for-purpose and flexible, and compliance is as simple as possible.
- Supporting relevant portfolio institutions and regulators.
- Manage and deliver the Treasury portfolio legislative program in accordance with the Government's priorities. We will do this by implementing the Government's financial system, corporate law and consumer policy legislative agenda, including the final steps of the Government's response to the Financial System Inquiry.
- Work with regulators, consumers, industry participants and other policy thinkers to build partnerships that inform and influence policy decisions and outcomes.
- Lead Treasury-wide research and analysis, including using firm-level data, to support policy advice to improve Australia's productivity performance.
- Implement the Government's comprehensive housing affordability plan, including supporting the operation of the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation.
- Implement the Government's small business regulatory reform agenda and settling the final stages of the National Partnership Agreement on Asset Recycling.
- Manage policy and program reviews as required, including the Food and Grocery Code, Asset Recycling Initiative and Competitive Neutrality Policy.
- Modernise government business registers and identify digital opportunities to further improve government infrastructures for business and enhance government service delivery with digital ID for citizens.