Social Justice Australia

Budget Surplus and Australian Government

Budget surplus not required. Australian coins and bank notes.


Explore the implications of the Australian government’s commitment to pursuing a budget surplus. Understand how currency sovereignty shapes this goal and its impact on public welfare.

As the Australian federal government reiterates its commitment to achieving a budget surplus, it’s crucial to understand the broader implications of this economic strategy, especially in a country that enjoys full sovereignty over its currency.

1. Currency Sovereignty and Budget Surplus Explained:

Australia, as a sovereign currency issuer, has the unique ability to create its own currency (AUD) without facing insolvency risks typical of currency users. This means the government can technically fund any required public spending without relying on tax revenues or foreign loans.

2. Implications of a Budget Surplus:

MMT and Budgets.


Aiming for a budget surplus implies that the government plans to spend less than it collects in taxes. While this might sound prudent, it can have contractionary effects on the economy.

Achieving a surplus withdraws money from the economy, which can lead to reduced economic activity and potentially increase unemployment unless offset by equal growth in private sector spending.

3. Economic Impact:

The pursuit of a budget surplus is often justified to control inflation and support fiscal discipline. However, in an economy with underutilized resources, this policy can unnecessarily restrain public investment in crucial areas such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure—sectors already strained by neoliberal policies.

4. Political and Social Considerations:

The emphasis on budget surplus amidst economic pressures can reflect a political stance more than an economic necessity. This stance often favours austerity measures that affect social services and welfare, contradicting the needs of the workforce and the public good.

5. Strategic Alternatives:

Instead of a budget surplus, the government could adopt a more balanced fiscal approach by using its currency sovereignty. This involves using fiscal policies to directly address economic issues such as unemployment and social inequity through targeted public spending, which can be more beneficial in the long term.


While a budget surplus is often touted as a hallmark of economic prudence, it is essential to critically assess its true costs and benefits. Given Australia’s sovereign control over the AUD, the government has the flexibility to support economic growth and public welfare more effectively through strategic fiscal policies.

Questions for Reflection:

– What are the real benefits of a government surplus, and who does it truly benefit?
– How can Australia use its currency sovereignty to foster a more inclusive economic growth?

Call to Action:

Join the conversation on how Australia can better use its fiscal policies for public good. #AusPol #EconomicReform #BudgetSurplus

Understanding the dynamics of Australia’s budget goals in the context of its economic sovereignty offers a crucial perspective on its fiscal policies and their societal impact.


Still shooting for surplus, despite war, inflation:
Wray, L. Randall. “Modern Money Theory: A Primer on Macroeconomics for Sovereign Monetary Systems”, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. This book explains how countries with sovereign currencies operate under different economic rules than those without such sovereignty:
Australian Government, The Treasury. “Budget Strategy and Outlook 2024-25”. This official document outlines the government’s budgetary objectives, including the rationale behind aiming for a surplus:
Mitchell, William; Fazi, Thomas. “Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World”, Pluto Press, 2017. In this book, Mitchell and Fazi critique neoliberal economic policies and discuss the potential of sovereign monetary systems, like Australia’s, to implement progressive economic measures without the constraints imposed by a pursuit of budget surpluses:
Joseph Stiglitz’s work provides insight into how economic policies, including those aimed at generating surpluses, can exacerbate social inequalities. The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future:×05/download&ved=2ahUKEwiCjLyG4sKFAxVb4zgGHZNtCqIQFnoECE0QAQ&usg=AOvVaw065Aty4Qge-iQX8WrzjVP3
Kelton, Stephanie. “The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and How to Build a Better Economy”, Public Affairs, 2020. Kelton discusses how governments that control their currency can use fiscal policy more effectively to address social and economic issues without the constraints of traditional budgetary concerns:
Some of the above books are expensive, but you can read the overview to get an idea of their content.

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