Treasurer outlines new economic challenges in ANU lecture

12 November 2019

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has outlined the new challenges facing the Australian economy, and how we might tackle them, in a speech delivered at The Australian National University (ANU).

The Treasurer was speaking at the 2019 Australia and the World annual lecture - a series established by the ANU Australian Studies Institute. 

In his address, Mr Frydenberg pointed to challenges such as an ageing global population, rapid urbanisation and competiveness among the 'great powers'.

"The economic weight of the world has shifted," the Treasurer said, describing the rise of Asia as "remarkable".

"The opportunities on our doorstep are immense...The tyranny of distance is no longer what it was."

The Treasurer suggested we need to stay "strongly engaged" with our trading partners and pursue domestic reforms that allow us to hold on to our "competitiveness, openness and fiscal discipline".

He pointed to the period after the Second World War when institutions such as the International Monetary Fund were formed, leading to a golden age of global economic growth.

Mr Frydenberg said this enabled Australia to capitalise on the opening up of trade - with some important lessons for today's economic climate.

He quoted former Prime Minister Robert Menzies, who said: "it is true that we are not a numerous people, but we have our vigour, intelligence and resource."

The Treasurer said we need to 'reclaim' that spirit as we pursue new trade opportunities.

He believes while the IMF and the World Money Fund still have a crucial role to play, they also need to embrace reform - particularly when it comes to trade dispute rules and encouraging greater input from emerging Asian economies.

The Australia and the World lecture series was established in 2018, to promote a broader conversation about Australia's place in the world, with ANU Chancellor Professor Gareth Evans delivering the inaugural address.