I left Treasury in 1993 as Deputy Secretary (Economic) and subsequently spent 22 years in the private sector. In returning to Treasury, I am struck by how its responsibilities have expanded. Treasury covers the waterfront of economic policy: it provides advice to government on macroeconomic, foreign investment, competition, small business, financial, structural, social, fiscal, tax and international policy issues and manages relationships with 15 portfolio agencies as well as the Commonwealth’s debt management.
During 2014-15, in addition to preparing the Budget and the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, Treasury provided more than 3,500 briefings to ministers, supported inquiries into competition policy and financial services, conducted more than 55 consultative processes, developed a tax discussion paper and published the fourth intergenerational report.
The annual report details some of the significant deliverables for the year. These include: hosting the G20 Finance Ministers’ meetings; supporting the first comprehensive review of Australia’s competition laws and policy in more than 20 years; developing the Government’s response to the Financial System Inquiry; reforming Australia’s foreign investment framework; and enabling Australia to become a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
“The quality and range of Treasury’s engagement is another fundamental element in building Treasury’s reputation for excellence.”
I have been regularly asked about my priorities for Treasury since taking on this role just over six months ago. I want Treasury to be regarded as the nation’s leading economic institution with a reputation for excellence in policy, advice, analysis, forecasting and modelling.
I believe our people are fundamental to Treasury achieving this reputation for excellence. I want people to feel that they can come to Treasury for two or three years, longer if they wish. Working at Treasury should be keenly sought-after for the opportunity to help governments meet their policy priorities, to gain firsthand experience of the workings of government and practical understanding of the public policy process. Treasury’s offering is invaluable and a genuine enhancement to career prospects.
The quality and range of Treasury’s engagement is a fundamental element in building Treasury’s reputation for excellence. Ongoing, productive engagement must be standard practice to ensure quality advice that is alive to risk and has considered a range of views. We are seeking to engage across the broadest spectrum of stakeholders, government, non-government, think tanks, academia, small, medium and large business, the social welfare sector, industry, the financial sector, peak organisations and the community. I want us to knock on doors when interstate, both formally and informally to consult on policy, to broaden our thinking and to become better attuned to business conditions, trends and attitudes.
To support this push for meaningful and continual engagement, we have established Treasury’s Sydney office which will encourage secondments from the private sector for the mutual benefit of secondees and Treasury. Treasury will also establish an office in Melbourne in late 2015.
International engagement remains important and Treasury is well represented in international fora at the G20, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Financial Stability Board and many other bilateral and multilateral organisations. In addition, as Secretary of Treasury I am chair to the newly established Global Infrastructure Hub, a G20 initiative to lift quality public and private infrastructure investment. This array of activity demonstrates the reach that Treasury has in driving economic reform. As the 2015 Intergenerational Report makes clear, Australia’s economic challenges demand well-designed, productivity-enhancing reform.
“Working at Treasury should be keenly sought-after for the opportunity to help governments meet their policy priorities, to gain firsthand experience of the workings of government and practical understanding of the public policy process.”
This being the 2014-15 year in review, I would like to acknowledge my predecessor Dr Martin Parkinson PSM and his considerable achievements over the past five years, not the least being the influential role he played during Australia’s presidency of the G20 in 2014.
I am pleased to present this annual report for 2014-15 and I commend our staff for their ongoing commitment and important contribution to the Government’s policy priorities.
John A. Fraser