Australian Federal Treasurer The Hon. Scott Morrison MP, gave his reading of the state of the Australian economy, and discussed global and international financial issues at the UNSW Australasian Finance and Banking Conference.

At the conference of business leaders, world-class academics and senior practitioners, he sought to distinguish between good and bad public debt, one week before the mid-year economic update and after concerns from global rating agencies.

In his keynote address that he argued it was prudent to take on additional debt to invest in infrastructure once recurrent spending was under control, and said it was "patently obvious" there were good and bad uses of public debt.

"Bad debt is debt used for current spending purposes, no different than in a household," he said. "Borrowing for this type of recurrent expenditure at the Commonwealth level is not sustainable and it is vital that we reduce our borrowing for day-to-day government spending."

Mr Morrison said Australia had comparatively low levels of public debt compared to other AAA rated economies, although they were high by historical standards. "We already have borrowing to support infrastructure programs now," he said.

His keynote address was introduced by Professor Chris Styles, Dean of the UNSW Business School, who noted that Scott Morrison was alumni of the School.

Scott Morrison, a Liberal Party member of the Australian House of Representatives representing the Division of Cook, received an honours degree in Applied Economic Geography from UNSW Australia.

The high-level conference discussed the main challenges affecting the banking and finance industries in the Asia Pacific region, and what this means for Australian markets. Up to 300 delegates from 30 countries participated in the conference.

The Forum will also include the launch of the World Bank report Doing Business 2017, which was launched by Dr Augusto López-Claros, Director of the World Bank Global Indicators Group, on the first day of the three day conference.

The report’s findings, which span 190 economies and selected cities at the sub-national and regional level, discussed global interdependent forces that are influencing the direction of the international economy in the post Global Financial Crisis era. He covered all parts of the banking system, which he said was recovering quite well after the GFC, and capital flows were getting back to a “new normal”. He also covered remittance payments which he said are “an important and fairly stable source of income for millions of families and of foreign exchange to many developing countries”.

An initiative of the Institute of Global Finance and School of Banking & Finance at the UNSW Business School, the Australasian Finance and Banking Conference is now in its 29th year.

The UNSW Business School’s Professor Fariborz Moshirian, the Director of the Institute of Global Finance, said the conference had been successful in bringing together the world’s foremost thought leaders from the financial community. “The Australasian Finance and Banking Conference is the most prestigious finance conference in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Listen to a podcast of the keynote address by Scott Morrison.

Media contact: Julian Lorkin: 02 9385 9887