The headquarters of The Treasury, located in , Canberra
The Treasury, fully Department of the Treasury, is the Australian Government ministerial department responsible for economic policy, fiscal policy, market regulation, and the Australian federal budget. The Treasury is one of only two government departments that have existed continuously since Federation in 1901, the other being the Attorney-General's Department.
The most senior public servant in the Treasury is the department secretary, currently Steven Kennedy who was appointed in September 2019. Ministerial responsibility for the department lies with the Treasurer, currently Josh Frydenberg who took office in the Morrison Government in August 2018.
The Australian Treasury was established in Melbourne in January 1901, after the federation of the six Australian colonies. In 1910, the federal government passed the Australian Notes Act 1910 which gave control over the issue of Australian bank notes to The Treasury and prohibited the circulation of state notes and withdrew their status as legal tender. The Treasury issued notes until 1924, when the responsibility was transferred to the Commonwealth Bank and later to Note Printing Australia, a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Australia.
The department is focused on developing Australian taxation system, land and income tax and economic policies.
The Treasury is divided into four groups: fiscal, macroeconomic, revenue and markets, with support coming from the Corporate Services Division. These groups were established to meet four policy outcomes.
The department works with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Reserve Bank of Australia via the Council of Financial Regulators Working Group to ensure that market operators have appropriate oversight and to facilitate crisis management if required.
The Secretary to the Treasury is the public service head of the department. Below is the list of Secretaries.
|Order||Name||Term begin||Term end||Time in office|
|1||George Allen||1 January 1901||13 March 1916||15 years, 72 days|
|2||James Collins||14 March 1916||26 June 1926||10 years, 104 days|
|3||James Heathershaw||3 August 1926||28 April 1932||5 years, 269 days|
|4||Sir Henry (Harry) Sheehan||29 April 1932||28 February 1938||5 years, 305 days|
|5||Stuart McFarlane||24 March 1938||29 January 1948||9 years, 311 days|
|6||George Watt||23 November 1948||31 March 1951||2 years, 128 days|
|7||Sir Roland Wilson||1 April 1951||27 October 1966||15 years, 209 days|
|8||Sir Richard Randall||28 October 1966||31 October 1971||5 years, 3 days|
|9||Sir Frederick Wheeler||1 November 1971||5 January 1979||7 years, 65 days|
|10||John Stone||8 January 1979||14 September 1984||5 years, 250 days|
|11||Bernie Fraser||19 September 1984||18 September 1989||4 years, 364 days|
|12||Chris Higgins||19 September 1989||6 December 1990||277 days|
|13||Tony Cole||14 February 1991||23 March 1993||2 years, 37 days|
|14||Ted Evans||24 May 1993||26 April 2001||7 years, 335 days|
|15||Ken Henry||27 April 2001||4 March 2011||9 years, 311 days|
|16||Martin Parkinson||7 March 2011||12 December 2014||3 years, 280 days|
|17||John Fraser||15 January 2015||31 July 2018||3 years, 197 days|
|18||Philip Gaetjens||1 August 2018||2 September 2019||1 year, 32 days|
|19||Steven Kennedy||2 September 2019||incumbent|
In 2008, Treasurer Wayne Swan called Secretary to the Treasury Ken Henry an "independent economic regulator," similar to the Governor of the Reserve Bank. When asked after the 2009 Budget about Treasury's independence, Henry replied:
Strictly of course we're not. The Treasury Department is a department of state. It is part of the executive government. It works to the government of the day, whatever the political persuasion of the government of the day. And so in that sense of course the Treasury is not independent from government and it can never behave as if it is independent from government. But there's another sense in which it does have a degree of independence and that is that the Treasury conducts its analysis without government interference. It's up to the government of the day to decide whether to accept that analysis or whether to reject that analysis.-- ABC Radio, Tuesday, 19 May 2009
The department is legally required to provide a Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Outlook containing updated reports on the economic and fiscal outlook shortly after the issuing of a writ for a general federal election.