Insights Into Government Finance Statistics, Annual, 2020-21

Statistics about finances of the general government and public corporation sectors for the various levels of government in Australia


Economic overview

Government fiscal support targeted economic affairs, social protection, and healthcare spending. Governments eased COVID-19 restrictions, however Victoria suffered from a second wave and extended lockdown period.

Commonwealth, state, and territory governments commenced the rollout and administration of COVID-19 vaccines. Other healthcare spending remained elevated, particularly in Victoria, due to ongoing COVID-19 health response expenditure on frontline staff, testing and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Business conditions recovered from the widespread COVID-19 lockdowns in 2019-20, and the labour market also improved. Commonwealth taxation increased across company income tax, personal income tax and GST, while states received more stamp duties on conveyances and gambling tax.

Change (a) in days within the year where at least one area of the state was in lockdown, 2019-20 to 2020-21 financial year

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Change (a) in days where at least one area of the state was in lockdown from previous year:

New South Wales -39

Victoria 90

Queensland -35

South Australia -39

Western Australia -32

Tasmania -45

Northern Territory -41

Australian Capital Territory -45


  1. approximate

Government fiscal position

Net operating balance

All levels of general government net operating balance was -$145.6b in 2020-21.

This is the largest all levels of general government net operating balance deficit recorded in the GFS time series. The main contributors are:

  • 45.3% rise in subsidy expenses (up $34.6b)
  • 11.1% rise in current monetary transfers to households (up $16.2b)
  • 13.7% rise in benefits to households in goods and services (up $14.5b)
  • 7.5% rise in taxation revenue (up $41.5b)

Taxation revenue

Commonwealth taxation revenue

The main contributors to the 7.5% rise in the Commonwealth taxation revenue in 2020-21 are:

  • 12.7% rise in company income tax (up $11.3b)
  • 14.4% rise in goods and services tax (up $9.3b)
  • 2.8% rise in personal income tax (up $5.8b)

State and local government taxation revenue

The main contributors to the rise in state and local taxation revenue in 2020-21 are:

  • 25.7% rise in stamp duties on conveyances (up $4.9b)
  • 17.1% rise in gambling taxes (up $1.0b)

  • 7.3% rise in motor vehicle taxes (up $0.8b)

General government debt

For further information on debt statistics under AGSF15

All Australia general government net debt (L2) reached $787.7b or 38.1% of GDP in 2020-21.

  1. L2 is comparable to government reporting of net debt under Australian accounting standards.
  2. using the GDP annual series as published in Table 36 in the December quarter 2021 issue in Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product

This is the largest level of all Australia L2 recorded in the GFS time series and is due to:

  • 20.1% rise in National net debt (up $111.9b)
  • 46.2% rise in total state net debt (up $45.0b)

Matrix of general government net debt and other liabilities

A matrix-style presentation enables users to analyse different measures of debt and other liabilities.

  • L1 to L3 focus on governments’ liquidity
  • L4 to L6 focus on governments’ longer term budget sustainability
General government net debt and other liabilities by sector as at 30 June 2021 (e)
 National general government (d)Total State general governmentTotal Local general governmentAll Australia general government
 Debt securities799,213-14,608-13,251771,353
 plus Loans-72,632184,2074,378115,953
Equals L1726,582169,598-8,873887,307
 plus SDRs5,852005,852
 plus Currency and deposits-64,945-27,293-13,171-105,410
Equals L2 (f)667,488142,305-22,044787,749
 plus Other accounts payable56,07767,8835,658129,618
Equals L3723,564210,188-16,386917,366
 plus Insurance and superannuation415,355158,1734573,532
Equals L4 (g)1,138,920368,361-16,3821,490,898
 plus Financial derivatives-15,836-1,081-81-16,998
Equals L5 (h)1,123,083367,279-16,4621,473,900
 plus Equities-239,377-331,309-8,086-578,773
Equals L6 (i)883,70635,970-24,548895,128
  1. National includes both the Commonwealth and Control not further defined (n.f.d.) levels of government. The control n.f.d. sector contains units where jurisdiction is shared between two or more governments, or classification of a unit to a jurisdiction is otherwise unclear. The main types of units currently falling into this category are the public universities.
  2. A positive value in this matrix indicates that the relevant stock of liabilities is greater than its corresponding stock of financial assets (an indebted position). A negative value indicates the opposite.
  3. L2 is comparable to government reporting of net debt under Australian Accounting Standards.
  4. L4 is comparable to the IMF GFSM 2014 concept of headline net public sector debt.
  5. L5 is comparable to the Australian AGFS15 concept of headline net public sector debt.
  6. L6 includes other liabilities and is not included in headline measures of net public sector debt.

Key functions of government


The main contributors to total education expenses in 2020-21 are:

  • 2.4% rise in school education (up $1.4b)
  • 49.9% rise in Commonwealth apprenticeships and traineeships (up $1.3b)
  • 3.2% fall in tertiary education (down $1.3b)

Tertiary education

Key fiscal measures of the tertiary education sector were impacted by the decline in international students.

  • 39.1% fall in gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) (down $2.0b)
  • 3.2% fall in expenses (down $1.3b)
  • 3.3% fall in revenue (down $0.7b)


The main contributors to the 9.3% rise total Health expenses in 2020-21 are:

  • 9.7% rise in community health services (up $4.4b)
  • 6.5% rise in hospital services (up $3.4b)
  • 40.3% rise in public health services (up $2.7b)

Social protection

The main contributors to the 12.4% rise in total social protection expenses in 2020-21 are:

  • 46.8% rise in unemployment support payments (up $9.5b)
  • 12.4% rise in sickness and disability support payments (up $6.2b)
  • 7.3% rise in old age support payments (up $6.1b)
  • 9.5% rise in family and children support payments (up $4.3b)

Economic affairs

The main contributors to the 39.4% rise in total economic affairs expenses in 2020-21 are:

  • 48.9% rise in general economic, commercial, and labour affairs (up $28.8b)
  • 37.1% rise in economic affairs n.e.c. (up $1.5b)
  • 21.9% rise in mining, manufacturing, and construction (up $0.9b)
  • 8.8% rise in fuel and energy (up $0.9b)


The main contributors to total Defence expenses in 2020-21 are:

  • 12.4% rise in non-employee expenses (up $2.0b)
  • 8.0% fall in depreciation (down $0.4b)
  • 2.2% fall in employee expenses (down $0.4b)


The main contributors to the 10.6% rise in total transport expenses in 2020-21 are:

  • 15.6% rise in railway transport (up $1.6b)
  • 5.1% rise in road transport (up $1.0b)
  • 78.1% rise in air transport (up $0.8b)

Public investment

Total public sector investment in new assets

The main contributors to total public sector investment in new assets in 2020-21 are:

  • 6.9% rise in state and local (up $3.7b)
  • 5.9% rise in public non-financial corporations (up $1.3b)
  • 4.0% rise in Commonwealth (up $0.6b)
  • 38.0% fall in control n.f.d. sector, which is primarily universities (down $1.7b)


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