'It is what it is': Scott Morrison is all Zen about Australia's debt

Scott Morrison. Photo: Getty Images

The federal government is trying to change the conversation about Australia’s national debt, having conceded this week that a return to budget surplus looks unlikely this decade.

Instead Morrison is trying to highlight how the budget deficit is being slowly reduced in the years ahead, as the economy enters a period of lower growth.

But running deficits means continuing to borrow to fund government spending, so the amount of debt Australia has on issue in financial markets will continue to increase in the years ahead, and will approach some $490 billion gross debt next year.

Here’s Morrison quoted in The Australian this morning:

Asked if the debt was sustainable, Mr Morrison said: “The debt is what it is. That’s what it is.”


The saying “It is what it is” has come into increasing use over recent years, and is not without its detractors.

“Don’t ever say, ‘it is what it is'” writes John LeFevre, the former investment banker behind Goldman Sachs Elevator, in the famed Unofficial Goldman Sachs guide to being a man. He has elaborated on this on Twitter:

Others have written at surprising length about why they hate the phrase.

Urban Dictionary has an entry for the saying, noting it’s “incredibly versatile”, and in the business world, can also be translated like this: “F–k it.”

The Australian has more comments from Morrison and I’ve written in detail about the new budget reality here.

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