Australian government debt

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Throughout this article, the unqualified term "dollar" and the $ symbol refer to the Australian dollar.
Date (30 June) Gross debt
(A$ millions)
2007 58,284
2008 60,462
2009 101,147
2010 147,133
2011 191,291
2012 233,976
2013[1] 257,364
Source: Reserve Bank of Australia[2]
World public debt as a percent of GDP, 2011

The Australian government debt[3] is the amount owed by the Australian federal government. The Australian Office of Financial Management, which is part of the Treasury Portfolio, is the agency which manages the government debt and does all the borrowing on behalf of the Australian government.[4] Australian government debt consists of Commonwealth government securities, that is, treasury bonds, treasury indexed bonds, treasury notes and infrastructure bonds.

Movement in government debt is affected by government budget deficit or surplus, as well as a change in the market value of government securities.

As of 28 February 2014, the gross Australian government debt was A$300,628 million. As of 15 August 2014, it was $326,552 million.[5]

Australia's bond credit rating was rated AAA by all three major credit rating agencies as at December 2013.[6]

Structure of the Total Debt of the Australian Economy (in % of GDP)

Latest budget forecast[edit]

2012 budget forecast[edit]

Net financial position of governments quarterly since 1988 ($ millions)
National General Government
State and Local Governments

In May 2012, Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan released the 2011–12 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO).[7] In 2011–12, the Australian Government general government sector recorded an underlying cash deficit of $43.7 billion (3.0% of GDP).[8] The fiscal balance was in deficit by $44.5 billion (3.0% of GDP).

Australian Government general government sector net debt was $164 billion (11.133% of GDP), which was $16.7 billion higher than estimated at the time of the 2012 Australian federal budget. The change was primarily driven by the higher‑than‑expected market value of Commonwealth Government Securities (CGS), owing to lower than expected yields.[citation needed] Australian Government general government sector net financial worth was -$358.3 billion at the end of 2011‑12. Net worth was $247.2 billion at the end of 2011–12.


Australia's net foreign debt (including all sectors) as a percentage of GDP since 1989.

Total Australian Government revenue was $338.1 billion in 2011–12, $1.7 billion higher than estimated in the 2012–13 Budget.[8] Accrual taxation revenue was $316.8 billion in 2011–12, $325 million above the estimate in the 2012–13 Budget, which is in line with the variation in cash receipts.

Total non-tax revenue was $21.3 billion in 2011–12, $1.4 billion higher than estimated in the 2012–13 Budget. Non-tax receipts (excluding Future Fund earnings) were $17.3 billion, in line with estimates in the Budget. The largest component of the difference in outcomes between non-tax revenue and non-tax receipts (excluding Future Fund earnings) is the change in the accounting recognition of dividends from:

The Reserve Bank of Australia, a $500 million dividend has been recognised in 2011–12 instead of 2012–13, based on advice from the Australian National Audit Office; and The Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation, reflecting a change to the timing of accrual revenue at Budget, with the full amount of $400 million being recorded in 2011–12 instead of over the forward estimates.

Debt ceiling[edit]

A debt ceiling on how much the Australian government could borrow was created in 2007 by the Rudd Government and set at $75 billion. It was increased in 2009 to $200 billion,[9] $250 billion in 2011 and $300 billion in May 2012. In November 2013, Treasurer Joe Hockey requested Parliament's approval for an increase in the debt limit from $300 billion to $500 billion, saying that the limit will be exhausted by mid-December 2013.[10] With the support of the Australian Greens, the Abbott Government repealed the debt ceiling despite the opposition of the Australian Labor Party.

The debt ceiling was contained in s.5 of the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act 1911,[11] until its repeal in December 2013.[12]

See also[edit]


  2. ^ "Commonwealth Government Securities On Issue (E10)". Statistical Tables. Reserve Bank of Australia. Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  3. ^ Parliamentary Library Government debt
  4. ^ "Role and Function". Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  5. ^ AOFM: Commonwealth Government Securities On Issue
  6. ^ Michael Janda (21 December 2013). "Australian debt still AAA despite surplus miss". ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  7. ^ Final Budget Outcome: Fiscal strategy and outlook. Australian Government. Retrieved 2 February 2013.
  8. ^ a b Final Budget Outcome: Australian Government Budget Outcome. Australian Government. Retrieved 2 February 2013.
  9. ^ The Age, 24 October 2013 - Debt ceiling - all because of West Wing?
  10. ^ The Age, 14 November 2013.
  11. ^ Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act 1911, s.5
  12. ^ Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Amendment Act 2013

External links[edit]