3 October 2018

Opening remarks: Council on Federal Financial Relations, Melbourne

Welcome colleagues to the Council on Federal Financial Relations. Welcome to Melbourne, on behalf of Tim and I, and welcome to Treasury Place. It was here that the gold was stored, in this very building, and there’s a big safe below, I have checked it and there’s nothing left. So, unfortunately, that is the case.

But, today we will talking about the strength of the Australian economy. We are meeting at a time where the Australian economy is growing. It has grown by 3.4 per cent through the year. That was broad based growth. We saw household consumption that was up, we saw dwelling investment that was up, we saw business investment was up, we saw exports were up and, importantly, the states and the territories and the federal government are all spending on infrastructure, with public final demand being up.

Australia’s AAA credit rating was recently reaffirmed by Standard & Poor’s and the benefit of having a AAA credit rating from the three leading rating agencies, Moody’s, Fitch and S&P, is that that flows through the cost of borrowing for the states and the territories and of course the Commonwealth Government. And we recently released our Final Budget Outcome which showed that the budget is on track for balance in 19-20.

At the same time, we have a very busy and significant agenda before us today. The first item of business will be discussing the removal of the GST on feminine hygiene products. This is a long overdue reform which will put more money into the hip pockets of Australian households.

We’ll also be talking about the distribution of the GST, following the report from the Productivity Commission. It is the Commonwealth’s view that the existing system was not sustainable in the long term and its integrity was threatened when we had a situation where Western Australians were getting just 30 cents in the dollar. What we’ve come up with is a better plan, a better plan that will leave every state and territory better off.

We’ll also be discussing other important issues affecting our communities, including health and education. So it’s a busy agenda, I look forward to very constructive discussions. We are all familiar with the issues, we had a good discussion last night and I look forward to us all acting to the great benefit of all Australians.

Thank you very much.