LABOR REQUESTS DEBT AUDIT

SENATOR KATY GALLAGHER.
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2 months ago
LABOR REQUESTS DEBT AUDIT
SENATOR KATY GALLAGHER
Labor has written to the Auditor-General to request that the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) conduct a performance audit into the management of Commonwealth debt.
 
Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Australian Government debt was already hitting record highs with net debt at $403 billion and gross debt climbing to $561.8 billion as at the end of December 2019. 
 
Net debt currently sits at $429.6 billion as at the end of March 2020, and gross debt at $607.4 billion as at 1 May 2020 – which is more than double the level of debt inherited by the Government when they took office in September 2013.
 
The Government has recently raised the notional debt ceiling from $600 billion to $850 billion in order to fund more than $200b in direct budget support being spent on the COVID-19 economic response packages. 
 
Labor acknowledges that additional borrowing was required in order to support Australians through this crisis, but we do believe that independent scrutiny of how the Government’s increasing debt bill is being managed is required.
 
It would also be a timely audit given the last audit into Commonwealth debt management was conducted in 1999, with a follow-up audit performed in 2005.
 
We know from the Treasurer’s own words that the increased debt burden would be “shouldered by generations to come”, so Labor believes that an examination of Commonwealth debt management would be prudent, and could occur either as part of the ANAO's 2020-21 general work program, or as part of the ANAO's proposed COVID-19 audit program.