The federal government ran a $14-billion deficit in 2018-19, according to its latest annual financial report, the third year in a row with a shortfall bigger than $10 billion.
The 2018-19 deficit follows two straight $19-billion shortfalls, and the annual financial numbers haven’t shown a surplus since 2006-07.
Overall, the federal debt increased to $685.5 billion at the end of 2018-19. The debt-to-GDP ratio — a measure of how burdensome the national debt is — fell to 30.9 per cent from 31.3 per cent in 2017-18, the report shows.
The state of federal finances has already been the subject of political debate during the election campaign as parties argue whether the government should make an effort to balance the federal books — and how quickly.
In the three full fiscal years since the Liberals came to power, the federal government has posted $52 billion worth of shortfalls even though the economy has had a solid run of growth.
The Liberals won the 2015 election on a platform that promised annual deficits of no more than $10 billion and to return to balance by 2019.