Last week at the NSW Business Chamber’s Economic Briefing Breakfast, Treasurer Joe Hockey announced a new Intergenerational Report will be released in a few weeks.
The Intergenerational Report will outline trends in population, productivity, budget deficits and economic growth over the next 50 years. It will also facilitate a conversation with Australians on the challenges our nation faces over the next 40 years.
There is a danger that many will be cynical about this document, “more scaremongering about our increasing debt”.
But this report is very important.
It’s important for anyone who has children or grandchildren, or anyone who is even thinking about having children.
It’s important because this report is going to say that budget savings today will ease the burden on those yet to be born.
I have four children, aged between 5 and 11, and I want them to have a decent quality of life into the future.
I feel incredibly blessed to live in the greatest country on earth.
We need to do everything we can now to make sure our children and grandchildren feel the same way.
I am grateful I have a job where I have an opportunity to make Australia an even better country.
Our parents and grandparents made enormous sacrifices for us — unbelievable sacrifices through war, depression, and immense adversity.
Now we are being asked to make sacrifices for the next generation. It may not be the same as our forebears going to war or battling through a depression but we still have to do our part.
As a government we’ll keep building a strong, prosperous economy and a safe, secure Australia – because a stronger economy is the foundation of a stronger Australia, with more and better paid jobs.
Our key challenge is to get government finances in order.
We have a serious budget problem with the Federal Government spending $100 million a day more than it collects in revenue.
Spiralling debt is not a legacy we can leave for the next generation.
The Intergenerational Report will also show the percentage of working age people will fall in the years to come.
Over the next decade alone, the working population is expected to increase by 12 per cent, while the population over 65 is expected to increase by 36 per cent.
In other words, the number of people in the 'traditional' workforce supporting those who have left the workforce will nearly halve over the next 40 years.
This means, in practice, tax revenues will struggle to meet the rising cost of government services.
Australia has had a quarter of a century of uninterrupted economic growth and, within two years, will have enjoyed the longest continuing period of economic growth of any modern, developed nation in the world.
This is what we want.
It’s where we should be.
But the challenge going forward is to maintain, and even raise, this standard of living over the next few decades.
I am already working closely with the Treasurer on making our Government finances sustainable, including through our response to the Intergenerational Report. I look forward to continuing to make a contribution towards preventing intergenerational theft.