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Annual Report 2003-04

Annual Report Series

The Annual Report 2003-04 was tabled in Parliament on 16 February 2005. The report forms part of the Commission's annual report series.

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  • Contents
  • Media release
  • Preliminaries

    Cover, Copyright, Letter, Acknowledgments, Contents, Abbreviations

  • Theme chapter

    1 Prospering in an ageing society (PDF - 121 Kb)

    Australia’s demographic transition
    Pervasive change in prospect
    Reducing impediments to labour supply
    Better health and aged care systems
    Wider reforms to promote productivity

  • 2 Commission activities

    30th anniversary
    Year in review
    Transparent and consultative processes
    Feedback on the Commission’s work
    Policy and wider impacts
    Associated reporting

  • APPENDICES
  • A Management and accountability
  • B Program performance
  • C Government commissioned projects
  • D Competitive neutrality complaints
  • E Supporting research and related activities
  • F Publications
  • G Financial statements
  • Compliance index
  • Attachments

    A1 Commissioner and staffing statistics
    A2 Commonwealth Disability Strategy: outcomes against mandatory performance indicators
    A3 Consultancies let in 2003-04
    A4 Freedom of information statement
    A5 Compliance index

  • References
  • Index

A wide ranging reform effort is required if higher living standards for Australians are to be maintained in the face of population ageing and other foreseeable environmental and economic challenges, says the Productivity Commission in its annual report for 2003-04, released today. The report, completed last November, focuses on issues raised in the Commission’s draft report on the Economic Implications of an Ageing Australia.

The Commission’s research shows that Australia’s economic growth will flag as its workforce grows more slowly than its population. And health and aged care costs will be particular pressure points on government finances.

The Commission argues that the impacts of an ageing population are unlikely to reach ‘crisis’ proportions but that they will pose some difficult policy choices. Raising the tax burden, increasing public debt and rationing access to services all have major downsides. This underlines the importance of reforms that address ageing pressures at their source and that improve the economic wherewithal to deal with them.

The Commission sees little practical scope for policies directed at immigration or fertility to significantly moderate ageing trends. This highlights the policy challenge of raising labour participation and productivity so as to sustain economic growth.

Whether higher growth would also alleviate fiscal pressures will depend on consequent demands for and costs of providing government services. Key among these is health care. The Commission notes that structural reforms that achieve more cost-effective health services would have a clear fiscal pay-off, as well as directly benefiting the community.

The Commission’s forthcoming final reports on National Competition Policy Reforms and on Ageing aim to assist all governments develop an action agenda to meet the ageing and other significant challenges facing Australia.


Leonora Nicol (Media, Publications and Web) 02 6240 3239 / 0417 665 443

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