There are those who like to pretend that the Howard era was actually a debacle that was of no benefit to Australia. They’ll claim that the only way the Howard government paid down debt was by asset sales and follow this with claims Howard had left the country economically in bad shape.
So without the spin let’s take a look at the situation and the numbers, in 1996 the Howard government inherited the $96 billion debt from the previous Fraser and Hawke/Keating governments. To pay down this debt the Liberals continued with the Labor policy of selling assets. $11 billion worth of assets were sold outright and $53 billion in shares were floated for a total of $64 billion that was used to pay down the debt.
$96 billion minus $64 billion leaves $32 billion, this remaining amount was also paid down and not by the proceeds of asset sales. Not only was the debt paid but there were regular budget surpluses and by the end of the Howard government the Future Fund was in place holding $50 billion and there was $20 billion in the bank that was providing the budget with $1 billion in interest per year. If this was all solely down to the asset sales without any real economic skill then the Howard government certainly knew how to stretch a dollar.
During the nine years of the Howard government Australia functioned as a welfare state, was running continued budget surpluses, unemployment was low, the cost of living was at reasonable levels and the debt was gone.
Howard left the country in bad shape?
The facts and figures say otherwise.
Refer to http://www.finance.gov.au/property/asset-sales/past-sales.html for information regarding the asset sales.