World Economy

Australia May Face a ‘Real Mess’ in Next Decade

Australia May Face a ‘Real Mess’ in Next DecadeAustralia May Face a ‘Real Mess’ in Next Decade

A former Australian treasury secretary told a summit of business and community leaders in Sydney on Wednesday that unless Australia acted quickly, the country would face the equivalent of a recession within the next decade.

“Unless we actually grab this challenge (of economic growth) by the horns and really get concrete about what are the priority issues, we are actually going to find ourselves sleepwalking into a real mess,” former Australian treasury secretary Martin Parkinson said, Xinhua reported.

Some 100 business and community leaders in Australia have come together at the National Reform Summit in Sydney on Wednesday to discuss what organizers believe the Australian government is too afraid to touch.

Parkinson said that if Australia’s economic growth remained nearer to 2.5% than 3%, as much as 5 percentage points of gross domestic product would be lost over the next decade.

“If this is not happening because our population growth is slow, it means willingly accepting the impact of a recession,” Parkinson said.

The loss of GDP from a recession is 5 or 6 percentage points, Parkinson said.

The Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens told the summit on Wednesday that the political debate currently raging in Australia on taxes should focus on lifting economic growth, rather than the distribution of the proceeds.

Despite record low interest rates and business and consumer confidence staying on average, economic growth has not been able to get to three percent, Stevens said.

“The kind of growth we want won’t be delivered just by central bank adjustments to interest rates or short-term fiscal initiatives that bring forward demand from next year, only to have to give it back then,” Stevens said.

“A key question worth asking is: how do we generate more growth? Not temporary, flash-in-the-pan growth, but sustainable growth.”

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, speaking via video-link while on a week-long visit to the Torres Strait, threw his support behind the event, admitting not all wisdom sits with Australia’s politicians.

“I’m here to listen because not all wisdom resides in Canberra, and listening to those with practical experience does make for better public policy,” Abbott said.

Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey urged the summit to deliver ideas the Australian community was willing to embrace.