Parliamentary Triangle Seminar Series


Thu 11 May 2017The Theatre, Parliament House"BUDGET 2017 - ROAD TO RENEWAL OR EMPEROR'S CLOTHES?"





DATE: Thursday 11 May
TIME: 12:00 for a 1pm start
VENUE: The Theatre, Parliament House

Light lunch will be provided.  This event is free for the public to attend. For catering and planning purposes, please RSVP to UCIGPA | at |

Click here to download the flyer.

Senator the Hon. Matthew Canavan, Dr Jim Chalmers MP, Saul Eslake, Professor Mark Evans, Michelle Grattan AO, and facilitated by Jane Halton AO.

The 2017 Federal Budget is shaping up to be one of the toughest budgets to second guess in decades. The Coalition Government came to power under Tony Abbott late in 2013 promising to ‘get the budget back under control’ and to ‘start reducing debt’. The Coalition promised to achieve these outcomes with a low taxation agenda coupled with a desire to stop “wasteful spending”. However, the Turnbull government has been unable to control the nation’s spiralling welfare bill partly because Labor and an obstructionist Senate are refusing to back Government welfare cuts, partly because of a commitment to the new mantra of “jobs and growth” and partly because of the need to keep its electorate on side. In an exclusive interview with The Courier-Mail on 14 February, Treasurer Scott Morrison said the impasse was leaving tough choices in the lead-up to May’s Budget implying that the Government could be forced to raise taxes to pay for welfare recipients because of unsustainable debt levels but, just six weeks later, tax cuts have been announced for a projected 3.1 million Australians and a tax rate of 27.5 per cent for businesses with a turnover of up to $50 million. The second highest income tax rate of 37 per cent will now kick in at $87,000 instead of $80,000. The measure, intended to prevent average wage earners from moving into the second highest tax bracket, will benefit anyone earning more than $80,000.

Over the next month government and opposition will be engaged in intensive experimentation with tax and transfer models to see how the government can achieve a balancing act between staving off recession and renewal and how the opposition can craft a plausible alternative economic project. The NATSEM budget luncheon will reflect on whether the nature of the budget signals a period of continuity or change in the trajectory of the Australian economy. It will be organised around a series of reflections on different aspects of the Federal Budget delivered by distinguished experts and politicians followed by a facilitated discussion with a public audience. We will focus principally on:

1) NATSEM’s assessment of the impact of key budget measures on the economy and Australian families;

2) evaluation of the success or otherwise of the government in achieving the Coalition’s election pledge to ‘get the budget under control’; and

3) debating how the government is fairing in its pursuit of jobs and growth.

The luncheon will be attended by members of the business community, government, industry, media and academics.


Matthew James Canavan was elected to the Australian Senate representing the state of Queensland at the 2013 federal election for the term beginning 1 July 2014. In the First Turnbull Ministry, Matthew served as the Minister for Northern Australia between 18 February and 19 July 2016. With the reelection of the Turnbull Government in 2016, he was elevated into Cabinet becoming the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia. Canavan was chief of staff to former Senator and current member for New England, Barnaby Joyce. He was previously an executive at KPMG and an economist at the Productivity Commission.
James Edward “Jim” Chalmers is the Labor Party member for Rankin in the Australian House of Representatives. Jim holds a PhD in commerce from the Australian National University and was chief of staff to Wayne Swan as Treasurer from 2010 to 2013. In 2013, he left his position as chief of staff to the Treasurer to become the Executive Director of the Chifley Research Centre. He left that role in July 2013, when he was preselected to succeed Craig Emerson as the Labor candidate for Rankin, and he won the seat at the 2013 election. He is the author of Glory Daze, a book about the disconnect between Australia’s strong economic performance and popular discontent with government.
Jane Halton AO, PSM is former Secretary of the Australian Department of Finance. She was responsible for essential services delivered by Finance including supporting the delivery of the Australian Government Budget. Prior to her appointment as Secretary of the Department of Finance in July 2014, Jane was Secretary of the Department of Health from 2002 to 2014 and was Australia’s longest serving secretary. Jane was recently appointed to the Board of the ANZ Bank and was created an Officer of the Order of Australia in June 2015.
Saul Eslake - Saul has worked as an economist in the Australian financial markets for more than 25 years, including as Chief Economist at McIntosh Securities (a stockbroking firm) in the late 1980s, Chief Economist (International) at National Mutual Funds Management in the early 1990s, and as Chief Economist at the Australia & New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) from 1995 to 2009. He took a break from the financial markets between July 2009 and December 2011, during which time he worked parttime as Director of the Productivity Growth Program at the Grattan Institute, a ‘think tank’ affiliated with Melbourne University, and as a freelance writer, speaker and consultant. Saul is presently a Vice Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Tasmania and a consultant through Nous Group.
Michelle Grattan AO - Michelle is recognised as one of Australia’s most influential political journalists. Michelle was the first woman to become editor of an Australian metropolitan daily newspaper and has subsequently amassed over 40 years of experience in journalism. Michelle is currently Chief Political Correspondent at The Conversation and a professorial fellow in IGPA at the University of Canberra.
Mark Evans - Mark is Director and Professor of Governance at IGPA. Before taking up this role he was Head of the Department of Politics at the University of York in the United Kingdom and Director of the World-wide Universities Public Policy Network. Mark has published 25 books in his field and has been editor of the international journal Policy Studies since 2005. Mark has acted as a senior policy advisor, delivered leadership training and managed policy evaluation projects in 26 countries including Australia, Brazil, China and the United Kingdom and for international organisations including the European Union, the UN and the World Bank. His recent book contributions include Methods that Matter (2016) and From Abbott to Turnbull: a new direction? (2016).


For over 20 years NATSEM has been, and remains, one of Australia’s leading economic and social policy research centres. It was initially established at the University of Canberra in 1993 to develop STINMOD – a model of the personal income taxation and government benefits system. The Federal Government relies heavily on STINMOD to understand how budget measures impact on Australian households. NATSEM has recently developed a pioneering new model STINMOD+ which has the capability to estimate the ‘day after’ impact of a new budget measure. This has been a significant upgrade to the original STINMOD model, and will allow NATSEM to continue to be the leading independent economic modeller in Australia. The Australian Budget has become probably the most important political event in the annual calendar for ensuring executive accountability and NATSEM’s independent models play an important role in enhancing the quality of budgetary debate.


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