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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

No oxymoron- Government committed to budget papers that make sense

Its not a headline issue, but it will be interesting to see how tonight's Federal Budget matches the statements by Minister for Finance Lindsay Tanner, that Labor would take steps to provide comprehensive and detailed information about planned expenditure in a way that presents a coherent picture of how our money is being spent and for what purpose.

Here is a post on this blog last December, just after the Government was sworn in:
"Most people who have ever tried to make much sense of the Federal Budget papers since the introduction of outputs/outcomes budgeting, will agree with the Minister for Finance Lindsay Tanner, that the details provided of what a Federal agency is going to spend our money on, is impenetrable. The Minister, in the course of an interview on Radio National's The National Interest:"....(I)f you read... the portfolio budget statements... it's very difficult to connect them with the wider budget papers, it's very difficult to connect them with annual reports, and there is all kinds of basic information that a lot of people in the media - the community whatever - are entitled to have, which is just not accessible". The Minister said he had asked retiring Democrat Senator Andrew Murray, who has a long standing interest in this issue, "to act as a bit of an auditor on these issues for us". Senator Murray (whose credentials also include a detailed knowledge of Freedom of Information matters) will continue in the Senate until next July. In the course of a debate in the Senate in September, he expressed strong views about the need for greater disclosure of financial management issues, including removal of some discretionary authority of public service chiefs, and greater parliamentary oversight."
Senator Murray tells me he will provide a report in June.

We'll see what the pundits make of the budget papers in the next few days.

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