14 November 2012

The Treasury should be praised for its role in economic success


Letter to the Editor
The Australian

Dear Editor,

Returning from Washington last week, I've been struck by the chasm between the complimentary views of the Australian economy offered by the likes of Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner and Christine Lagarde and, on the other hand, attacks on our economy mounted by prominent figures in our own public debate.

It is clear to me that Australia would not have built one of the strongest economies in the world without one of the strongest treasury departments in the world.

Treasury can and should be applauded for its vital role in our undeniable economic success amid the worst global conditions since the Great Depression.

It is regrettable that some commentators misunderstand the facts about the proper activities of Treasury, such as costing of policies in the public domain which took place under Peter Costello and were quite legitimately published in the pages of this newspaper as a useful way of advancing the public policy debate.

I welcome contributions to the public debate from all quarters. It is a fact that Australia has avoided huge job losses and social destruction seen among our peers, and that our economy is 11 per cent larger than before the global financial crisis and will be 18 per cent larger by 2014.

Given that Judith Sloan suggested that GDP growth should be the sole criterion of economic success, it is regrettable not to see this latter fact about our GDP performance under this government acknowledged ('Treasury's fall from grace started with wellbeing', The Australian, 13/11/2012).

More importantly, achievements like this are a remarkable endorsement of the fine men and women in Treasury, which is why I'll always defend their hard work in the face of unfair attacks.

Wayne Swan
Deputy PM and Treasurer