This week saw the first Senate estimates appearance by new Treasury head Steven Kennedy, who replaced long-time Liberal staffer Phil Gaetjens after the latter was promoted to head of Prime Minister and Cabinet. How did Kennedy perform?
The question is more important than at any time in recent years because the once-mighty Treasury is now discredited.
Its Pollyannaish performance on wage growth over the last six years has been profoundly embarrassing, and one of its senior executives recently tried to blame workers themselves for wage stagnation. It missed the collapse in household spending last year that wrecked its 2018-19 budget growth forecast. It has stayed silent about the productivity crisis that has set in under the current government. It has ceded leadership of economic debate to the Reserve Bank and the Productivity Commission, and budgeting credibility to the Parliamentary Budget Office.