The Abbott government must heed the advice in the Commission of Audit's report released today, says The Centre for Independent Studies, if it is to curtail wasteful government spending and bring the budget back on track.
'We are pleased that the Commission of Audit's $60-$70 billion worth of savings include numerous recommendations that the CIS has put forward in our TARGET30 campaign, which offers practical policy solutions to reducing excessive government spending,' says CIS TARGET30 Program Director Simon Cowan.
'Health care is set to become a growing drain on Australian taxpayers due to our ageing population. The CIS applauds the Commission of Audit's recommendation to means-test Medicare - a position put forward by the CIS last year.'
'The Commission has also taken an important step of encouraging people to contribute to their own health costs in recommending copayments on Medicare services, acknowledging at the same time the possibility of varying the copayment based on income as the CIS has suggested.'
'The Commission has given an encouraging nod towards more substantive healthcare reform, which should include consideration of health savings accounts to restore the principles of responsibility and self-reliance.'
'The Commission's position on industry assistance is encouraging, recognising that corporate welfare is wasteful and a good target for savings.'
The CIS has advocated in favour of addressing vertical fiscal imbalance and reducing duplication across the tiers of government, recommendations taken up by the Commission.
'Tightening of the means test for the age pension is a positive step towards ensuring that needy older Australians continue to be supported, and in line with what the CIS has recommended,' says Mr Cowan.
'Reforming superannuation will also reduce the age pension burden, but the Abbott government could go further, particularly by aligning the retirement age with the superannuation preservation age.'
Having pointed out the risks of cost blowouts in the NDIS, the CIS endorses the Commission's focus on ensuring the sustainability and long-term viability of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
'The Abbott government must prioritise its spending commitments and match them with savings. We have called for the government to refocus Family Tax Benefits on low income families with a view to boosting workforce participation and reducing middle class welfare,' says Mr Cowan.
'In education, more responsibility must be given to the states. We are encouraged by the Commission's recommendation to reduce the federal Department of Education.'
'The CIS has also recommended much greater scrutiny of the results of government spending programs, and are pleased that the Commission has taken program evaluation on board.'
'The Commission of Audit process is only the beginning. The government must have the courage to convince the public of the need to change our relationship with government,' says Mr Cowan.
Simon Cowan is a research fellow at The Centre for Independent Studies. He is available for comment.