Today, the Government has released the 2015 Intergenerational Report.
The Report is the social compact between the generations – children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents and each other.
It projects what the Australian population, economy, and budget could look like in 40 years and shows that Australia’s best years are ahead of us.
It also provides us with the information we need to prepare for the future and ensures we are well placed to address the demographic changes that Australia faces. It helps us identify where the future opportunities will be.
Australia has witnessed amazing change over the past 40 years, and will witness a transformation based on ideas and opportunities over the next 40 years.
Average incomes have doubled in real terms over the past 40 years and this increased wealth has been broadly shared across the community.
Today, Australians produce twice as much in goods and services for each hour they work compared with around 40 years ago.
Australians are living longer, healthier lives and we have one of the longest life expectancies in the world.
The Report projects that over the next 40 years the Australian economy will grow at 2.8 per cent per annum, slightly less than the 3.1 per cent per annum we saw over the past 40 years – but still a level of growth that would see Australia’s prosperity rise significantly.
To achieve this growth, the Report highlights that we need to take the steps now to be more productive and encourage greater workforce participation.
There are clear opportunities to increase workforce participation by supporting Australians to get and keep jobs. These opportunities include greater workforce participation by women and youth, and embracing the potential of older Australians.
Achieving the rate of productivity growth assumed in the Report will require the reform agenda to continue. Reforms that make government more efficient, that make our markets more efficient and give every opportunity for Australians to work smarter, not harder.
The Report shows that if we made no changes to policies left in place by the former government the deficit was on a path to reach $533 billion in today’s dollars, and net debt would have been almost $5.6 trillion by 2055.
However, the Report shows that the Government has already made considerable progress to repair the Budget.
With the measures already legislated, the projected budget deficit and net debt levels in 2055 have been halved.
We need to keep spending under control, so that we can deliver the services the community needs and expects. It also improves Australia’s capacity to respond to the challenges and opportunities outlined in the Report.
We must work together on a plan for our own future and how we will leave things for the next generation and the generations to follow.
The 2015 Intergenerational Report shows that we can have a positive and more prosperous future if we start planning for tomorrow, today.
This is a conversation the nation wants to have.