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Treasury’s accountability
(Letter published in The Australian, 26 June 2013.)

Judith Sloan argues “it’s a long way back for the Treasury to re-establish its reputation for high quality and accurate forecasting” (Commentary, 25/6). But although Treasury’s forecasts have sometimes been bewildering, there is a more serious question about its role in recent years.

While the department must provide advice on the implementation of the policies of the government of the day, as the body best placed to publish professional analyses on issues of national and international economic importance it also has a public service to perform.

The latter seems to have been missing in recent years. There has been a failure to identify publicly the extent of the economic risks involved in policies directed at reducing global warming, at increased regulation of the labour market and at implementing Keynesian fiscal policies. Nor has any serious attention been given to the causes of the global financial crisis or what might be done to reduce such risks in future.

There is a strong case for the incoming government to take action to improve the professional culture of the Treasury.    

Des Moore, former Treasury deputy secretary,
South Yarra Vic

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