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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Budget and transparency

As you struggle with the media onslaught over the next few days about the details of the Federal budget and the goodies the Government is handing out, its worth noting comments in an editorial in today’s Australian Financial Review: if the Government was a publicly listed company on the Australian Stock Exchange it would be in risk of civil or criminal action for its failure to observe the continuous disclosure requirement to fully inform the public of information that might affect the value of its shares.

"…… increase of about a third in any company’s forecast operating surplus would have to be disclosed. But when the Commonwealth enjoys such surging revenue that pundits expect the 2006 budget surplus announced today to be as much as $6 billion higher than the $11.5 billion forecast in the mid year outlook, no comparable clarifying statement emanates from its chief financial officer, Treasurer Peter Costello…..

Along with the AWB wheat scandal this illustrates the gulf between the standards of governance our elected representatives impose on business and those they are prepared to uphold themselves….

…….on budget day the Treasurer reveals a splendid surplus and some compensatory “tax cuts” – largely the belated return of “bracket creep” – and claims all the credit. It is no way to run the government finances of one of the world’s most successful economies".

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