29 February 2024

First address to the G20 Economic Ministers Forum, São Paulo, Brazil


Role of economic policies to address inequalities

Bom dia – lovely to see you all again, this time in São Paulo.

I want to thank the Brazilian Presidency and especially Minister Haddad for the agenda he has put together for us.

It recognises that the three big shocks of the past 15 years – the GFC, the pandemic, the spike in global inflation –

All risk turbocharging the inequalities and vulnerabilities which threaten our communities and our economies and diminish our politics.

Our response must be to embrace and shape change rather than barricade ourselves against it.

There are five big shifts in our societies and economies which matter most in this regard:

  • From hydrocarbons to renewables;
  • From information technology to artificial intelligence;
  • From younger populations to older;
  • The changing composition of our industrial bases;
  • And from globalisation to fragmentation.

We must do everything we can to ensure our people are the beneficiaries of this change rather than victims of change.

Our agenda needs to be middle‑out and bottom‑up, not top‑down.

This demands a focus on the labour market and ensuring people can earn more and keep more of what they earn.

Australia’s approach has ten parts:

  • Redefining full employment as part of our vision for the labour market;
  • New tax cuts up and down the income scale but with a particular emphasis on middle Australia and the low paid;
  • Supporting increases in the minimum wage, and funding better wage outcomes in the care economy;
  • Making it easier for parents and especially women by providing more support for early childhood education and care, and extending paid parental leave;
  • Boosting income support for the unemployed and single parents;
  • Targeted energy bill rebates;
  • Increasing rent assistance;
  • Strengthening universal health care and making medicines cheaper;
  • Building new social and affordable and energy efficient housing; and
  • New programs to break the cycle of place‑based disadvantage.

This is how we are addressing inequalities in our country from the bottom‑up and the middle‑out at the same time as we repair and balance our Budget.

But we are all conscious, too, that inequalities exist between us.

Twenty-two of Australia’s 26 nearest neighbours are developing economies.

That’s a key reason why we support the IMF and World Bank’s efforts at poverty reduction –

And why we encourage everyone here to do what they can –

So that we make meaningful progress towards a global economy that creates more opportunities for more people in the face of the most consequential changes we all face, in this defining decade.