Economic Survey of Australia - 2004


Published 2 February 2005

Executive summary

The OECD assessment and recommendations on the main economic challenges faced by Australia are available by clicking on each chapter heading below.

Economic performance and key challenges
Australia’s reform programme was remarkable, and is still producing benefits. But reform efforts have slackened off, despite new challenges. Maintaining high productivity growth and raising economic and social participation are key.

Fiscal policy: short-term issues and long-term challenges
Fiscal policy objectives include medium-term balance. De facto targeting of small surpluses is probably appropriate given long-term fiscal pressures. Public sector net debt is diminishing, but the government bond market will be retained. Commendable progress has been made towards reforming the tax system but issues remain.

Product market competition and economic performance
Productivity growth should be raised via more product market reforms, especially in network industries. Water use policies are advanced, but there is unfinished business. A reinvigorated reform programme, which requires jurisdictional co-operation should be developed.

Coming soon ECO Working Paper 451 Product market competition and economic performance in Australia

Policies to lower unemployment and raise labour force participation
To offset rising ageing-related claims on resources, labour market participation should rise. Welfare reforms and further reforms to labour market legislation should encourage participation and employment. Education levels have improved, but there are wide disparities in achievement and drop-out rates remain high.

A printer-friendly Policy Brief (in PDF format) may also be downloaded. The Policy Brief contains the executive summary and the OECD assessment and recommendations, but does not necessarily include all of the charts available from the above pages.


The complete edition of the OECD Economic Survey of Australia is available from: