ANU/Canberra Times Meet the Author series

Changing Fortunes: A History of the Australian Treasury, by Paul Tilley

Date & Times: Tuesday 6 August 2019, 6 to 7 pm

Location: Cinema Theatre, Kambri Cultural Centre

Paul Tilley and Peter Costello AC will be in conversation with Michelle Grattan on Paul’s important new book, Changing Fortunes: A History of the Australian Treasury, which examines how Treasury has evolved: in its economic thinking and with its influence on policy. Changing Fortunes tracks Treasury’s history since Federation, with a focus on the modern era since its 1976 split with Finance.

Treasury has been at the centre of every major economic policy issue the Australian Government has faced, its role evolving from the government’s bookkeeper at Federation in 1901 to today’s economic policy advising agency. Throughout its history Treasury has been a robust and stable institution with a consistent market-oriented economic framework – but its policy influence has waxed and waned.

It has supported reformist Treasurers such as Keating and Costello, and been a voice of caution when political imperatives have pushed governments down economically damaging paths. At times, though, Treasury advice has been ignored and it has been pushed out into the cold. Amidst the political chaos of recent times, Treasury has been dragged closer to government and become a less effective policy adviser. As a result, there has been a lack of a consistent government economic reform narrative over the last decade.

Paul Tilley was an economic adviser to governments for 32 years, working at senior levels in all parts of Treasury, as well as other key agencies such as the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Treasurer’s office and the OECD. He is now a Senior Fellow at the Melbourne Law School, a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University Tax and Transfer Policy Institute and works with a number of non-government organisations.

Peter Costello AC was Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia from 11 March 1996 to 3 December 2007, the longest serving Treasurer in Australia’s history. Peter Costello brought down twelve consecutive Federal Budgets, including ten surpluses. He was elected Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia in May 1994 and served in that post until November 2007. Peter Costello is a Company Director and a Corporate Advisor with ECG Financial Pty Ltd, Chairman of the Australian Future Fund and Chairman of the Nine Entertainment Corporation.

Michelle Grattan AO is one of Australia’s most respected political journalists and a former editor of the Canberra Times. She has been held positions with the Australian Financial Review, the Sydney Morning Herald and as Political Editor of The Age. Michelle currently has a dual role, as Professorial Fellow at the University of Canberra and as Chief Political Correspondent at The Conversation. 

The event will be chaired by Professor Robert Breunig, Director of the Tax and Transfer Policy Institute at the Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU .

Professor Breunig, one of Australia’s leading public policy economists, works regularly with government departments and agencies, including the Australian Treasury, the Department of Employment, the Department of Industry and the Productivity Commission.

Pre-event book signings will be available from 5:30pm and again after the event. This event is in association with Harry Hartog Bookshop and books will be available to purchase.

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