News National Future imperfect? Hockey sees volatile times ahead

Future imperfect? Hockey sees volatile times ahead

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Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey has warned of volatile economic times ahead, but says the trend is favouring a stronger global economy.

The International Monetary Fund upgraded its world growth forecast this week, but warned of continued fragilities in some economies and that downside risks remain.

“We need to make sure that we in Australia prepare for the volatility,” Mr Hockey told ABC radio on Friday.

This was one of the reasons why the government granted the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) $8.8 billion to help top up its reserve fund, he said.

However, the trend is favouring a stronger world economy, in particular in the US, but also in China.

“China will continue to grow, they will still want our resources, but we can no longer rely on them as the sole champion for Australian growth,” he said.

As such, he insists Australia must live within its means and stop wasting taxpayers’ money.

This week he granted his Commission of Audit into government spending a further two weeks to deliver a “comprehensive” interim report beyond the original target of January 31.

He won’t be acting on its recommendations until the May budget.

However, public servant job cuts were continuing in the interim.

A 100-year-old government agency is being scrapped and its 200 staff offered redundancy.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer Steven Ciobo said on Friday that the Australian Valuation Office will cease to provide services from June 30.

“A compelling case for the commonwealth providing its own valuation services no longer exists, particularly given there is a highly competitive market of private sector providers,” Mr Ciobo said in a statement.

Shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh said if there was a compelling case, the government had yet to make it.

“Scrapping a century-old institution deserves a proper report, not just a short press release from the parliamentary secretary,” Dr Leigh said.

The office has been delivering valuation services exclusively for the government since 1910.

Mr Ciobo said the office had become unsustainable, with expected losses of up to $4 million this financial year, and a further $1 million needed to bring its IT equipment up to date.

While the public sector remains under a cloud as the government tightens the purse strings, new Department of Employment data released on Friday shows it secured modest wages growth under enterprise bargaining agreements during the September quarter.

Public sector agreements rose to an average annualised rate of 3.5 per cent from 3.2 per cent in the previous three months. Private sector wage growth was flat in the quarter, but also running at 3.5 per cent annually.