Government Finance Statistics, Annual

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

Reference period
2019-20 financial year

Key statistics

In the year 2019-20:

  • General government net operating balance fell $123.6b from $16.6b in 2018-19 to -$107.0b
  • General government borrowing was $150.5b
  • Total public sector borrowing was $174.7b
  • All Australia net public sector debt (L2) reached 32.1% as a percentage of GDP

Main Features

Unless indicated, all figures presented in this publication are current prices, original series.

For the latest information on COVID-19 and economic support impacts, please visit the Government Finance Statistics quarterly publication.

Two articles are included in this publication:

Table 1. Annual key figures, all levels of government by sector
 General government sectorNon-financial public sectorTotal public sector (a)
Operating results
 GFS revenue685 187747 288758 503
 GFS expenses792 174863 068880 371
 GFS net operating balance- 106 987- 115 780- 121 868
 Net acqusition of non-financial assets43 56052 78352 823
 GFS net lending(+)/borrowing(-)- 150 547- 168 563- 174 691
Cash operating results
 GFS cash surplus(+)/deficit(-)- 135 024- 149 650- 150 004
Balance sheet results
 Total assets2 583 7762 747 3673 170 330
 Total liabilities1 897 5022 061 0932 484 056
 GFS net worth686 274686 274686 274

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
a. The total public sector comprises general government, public non-financial corporations and public financial corporations. The sum of individual levels of government or sectors may not agree with the total public sector figures due to transfers between level of government.

  1. The L2 measure of public sector net debt comprises debt securities, loans, Special Drawing Rights and currency and deposits. It is the measure most comparable to government reporting of net debt under the Uniform Presentation Framework (UPF).

  2. Using the GDP annual series as published in Table 36 in the December quarter 2020 issue in Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID-19 impacted Government Finance Statistics in the 2019-20 year across all levels of government, both as a result of changes in policy and through changes in economic activity. The year saw the fastest and largest fiscal response to an economic event in modern Australian history, with several hundred policy interventions announced across all levels of government. For additional information:

Accounting standard changes

The following Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) standard changes have been introduced in government financial reporting for periods from 1 July 2019 onwards, leading to increased divergence in certain circumstances between economic statistics publications and government financial reporting:

  • Leases (AASB 16): The standard removes the distinction between operating and finance leases on the lessee side of financial reporting. The conceptual distinction between operating and finance leases still remains in economic statistics. GFS outputs are consistent with the historical treatment.
  • Revenue recognition (AASB 15 & 1058): The standard requires revenue to be recognised when performance obligations are met in certain circumstances. In GFS the change primarily affects grant revenue received by state and territory governments from the Commonwealth. Recognition of grant revenue in GFS remains consistent with the historical treatment which is based on when jurisdictions have access to the funding as reported by the Commonwealth.
  • Service Concession Arrangements (AASB 1059): The standard impacts ownership of non-financial assets. It applies a control concept to determine non-financial asset ownership. Non-financial asset ownership in GFS is determined based off a risk-reward concept consistent with the historical treatment which has been maintained in economic statistics.

Transactions related to visa application changes

In December 2015, the Commonwealth Government released the 2015-16 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) which included a reclassification of visa application charges (VAC). These charges are now treated as taxation revenue rather than sales of goods and services. This reclassification has been applied to GFS, with no impact on total GFS revenue or the GFS net operating balance. The National Accounts statistics maintains coherence with previously published data and classify this transaction as sales of goods and services. This treatment will remain in place until the upcoming 2020-21 release of the National Accounts. These charges will then be classified as taxation revenue rather than sales of goods and services.

Accrual of JobKeeper subsidy expenses

GFS and National Accounts statistics accrue subsidy expenses related to JobKeeper on a daily basis.

Timing recognition of the Boosting Cash Flows for Employers subsidy expense

GFS and National Accounts statistics recognises the subsidy expense when the business receives payments after submitting activity statements and having met all requirements. This timing difference in recording the Boosting Cash Flow for Employers support program causes a divergence between the Commonwealth Government Final Budget Outcomes and ABS published Statistics.


Classification of Public Private Partnerships arrangements

The ABS continues to review and determine which institutional sector has economic ownership of assets being acquired (constructed) and operated to ensure consistent classification and more stable macroeconomic statistics. 

Assets linked to Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects are now allocated to one sector only for the entire life of the PPP contract (i.e. through both the acquisition (construction) and operations phases). This means that risks and rewards during both phases are considered at the same time when determining ownership.

The application of these principles to all public capital projects has resulted in reconciliation differences to the financial statements of some states and territories, as the ABS has determined a different economic owner of particular assets during the construction phase.

Key tables

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Time series, 2014-15 to 2019-20

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General government expenses by purpose

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Statement of stocks and flows

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Public sector debt statistics

A public sector debt statistics analysis article is included in this release:

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Statement of total changes in net worth

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Net operating balance falls

Commonwealth general government net operating balance decreased from $4,252m in 2018-19 to -$89,116m in 2019-20. All of Australia state and local general government net operating balance decreased from $14,808m in 2018-19 to -$16,884m in 2019-20. All of Australia general government net operating balance decreased from $16,630m in 2018-19 to -$106,987m in 2019-20.

Increases in monetary benefits to households due to COVID-19

Monetary transfers to households increased significantly in 2019-20 due to increased numbers of people on income support programs such as JobSeeker and additional payments for eligible individuals to assist with the impacts of COVID-19.

The Commonwealth government provided a Coronavirus supplement of $550 per fortnight to individuals on income support programs, as well as providing a $750 Economic Support Payment to eligible households on 12 March 2020.

Commonwealth general government monetary transfers to households rose to record levels, reaching $144,715m in 2019-20 up from $125,324m in 2018-19.

COVID-19 policy responses to support jobs and businesses

The government’s economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic included the introduction of a number of subsidies on products and production programs. JobKeeper and Boosting Cash Flow for Employers, introduced by the Commonwealth government were the largest and second largest subsidy programs recorded in GFS. State and territory governments also introduced a number of subsidy programs, including Business Support Funds and electricity rebates for small and medium enterprises to help businesses impacted by COVID-19.

All Australia general government subsidies on products and production rose to record levels, reaching $76,476m in 2019-20 up from $23,315m in 2018-19. Commonwealth general government subsidies on products and production increased $50,606m, from $12,968m to $63,574m in 2019-20. JobKeeper payments accounted for $35,142 million and Boosting Cash Flow for Employers contributed $14,607 million. All Australia state and local subsidies on products and production increased $2,556m, from $10,347m to $12,903m in 2019-20. 

For further information on the classification of these policies, please refer to the article included in this publication:

A comprehensive record of the Australian economy’s response to the unfolding events of the June quarter was created as part of the Australian Statistician's Analytical Series:

Previous catalogue number

 This release previously used catalogue number 5512.0.

Data downloads

Government Finance Statistics, Australia, 2019-20

Data files

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