Australia's COVID-19 public budgeting response: the straitjacket of neoliberalism

Jane Andrew, Max Baker, James Guthrie, Ann Martin-Sardesai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper explores how neoliberalism restrains the ability of governments to respond to crises through budgetary action. It examines the immediate budgetary responses to the COVID-19 pandemic by the Australian government and explores how the conditions created by prior neoliberal policies have limited these responses.

Design/methodology/approach: A review and examination of the prior literature on public budgeting and new public management are provided. The idea of a “neoliberal straitjacket” is used to frame the current budgetary and economic situation in Australia.

Findings: The paper examines the chronology of Australia's budgetary responses to the economic and health crisis created by COVID-19. These responses have taken the form of tax breaks and a temporary payment scheme for individuals made unemployed by the pandemic.

Practical implications: The insights gained from this paper may help with future policy developments and promote future research on similar crises.

Originality/value: The analysis of Australia's policies in dealing with the pandemic may offer insights for other countries struggling to cope with the fiscal consequences of COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)759-770
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Public Budgeting, Accounting and Financial Management
Issue number5
Early online date20 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2020


  • Australia government
  • COVID-19
  • Fiscal
  • Neoliberalism
  • Pandemic
  • Public budgets


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