In 2004-05, the Australian Government general government sector recorded an underlying cash surplus of $13.6 billion, or 1.6 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). The fiscal balance was in surplus by $10.8 billion (1.2 per cent of GDP).
Table 1: Australian Government general government sector budget aggregates(a)
- All estimates are based on Government Finance Statistics (GFS) standards, but with goods and services tax (GST) revenue collected on behalf of the States and Territories netted off revenue and expenses.
Australian Government general government sector net worth improved by $7.6 billion in 2004-05 to around -$32.0 billion, largely reflecting the strong budget surplus. Net debt also improved, falling by $11.9 billion in 2004-05 to around $11.5 billion or 1.3 per cent of GDP which is the lowest level in 28 years.
In cash terms the outcome was $4.4 billion higher than estimated at the time of the 2005-06 Budget principally because total cash payments were around $3.5 billion lower than expected at the 2005-06 Budget. This is due mainly to a lower than expected take up of grant and subsidy payments across a range of programmes ($1.3 billion). Also contributing to the underspends were delays in contract negotiations and delivery of goods and services ($0.5 billion), lower wages and salary payments ($0.5 billion), and the rejection by the Tasmanian and South Australian governments of an offer to extinguish state rail superannuation liabilities ($0.4 billion).
The fiscal balance outcome was $3.8 billion higher than estimated at Budget time, principally because revenue in accrual terms was around $3.6 billion higher than expected.