TARGET30: Towards smaller government and future prosperity

6 Mar 2013

This report introduces a campaign for reducing government spending to 30% of GDP.

Key points:

  • The size of government in Australia (federal, state and local) has been steadily expanding over the last 40 years, reaching into areas far beyond the core government responsibilities.
  • Spending in the general government sector (across all levels of government) has been growing at an average of more than 4% per year (inflation adjusted) since 1972 and is now at nearly 35% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
  • Australia will face budgetary pressures in the coming decades from an ageing population, falling economic growth, and rising costs (especially in health). These challenges and escalating government spending will impose heavy burdens on future generations.
  • The Centre for Independent Studies’ TARGET30 campaign will prepare Australia for these challenges by proposing realistic policy solutions to reduce the level of government expenditure to less than 30% of GDP over the next 10 years.
  • Without TARGET30, government expenditures may exceed 50% of GDP by 2050, resulting in higher taxation, higher debt, lower economic growth, and a further reduction in social capital.
  • TARGET30 on the other hand aims to boost economic growth and reduce taxes. Shrinking the size of government will also stimulate the charitable sector, foster personal responsibility, and reforge the community ties that once bound our society together.
  • TARGET30 is not an ‘austerity’ campaign. It does not propose to abolish the welfare safety net, or punish the poor. TARGET30 merely asks Australians to consider what they really need government to provide, rather than simply demanding more of what they would like but don’t want to pay for.
  • The research reports prepared for TARGET30 will focus on ways to ensure the efficient and effective delivery of crucial services that Australians require while curbing the uncontrolled growth of wasteful government spending.
  • Although Australia is in an enviable economic position compared to the rest of the world, we still need to learn lessons from the fiscal and debt crises in big-spending, big-government countries and act now to ensure prosperity for future generations.
  • TARGET30—because a smaller government means a bigger future for us all.

Authored by Simon Cowan with contributions from Robert Carling and Peter Saunders as well as Andrew Baker, Jennifer Buckingham, Stephen Kirchner, Peter Kurti, and Jeremy Sammut.

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