The Gillard Government welcomes the passage of legislation through the House of Representatives last night to deliver greater accountability and transparency to Australia's already strong budget framework.
The establishment of a new independent Parliamentary Budget Office will be a significant reform that will ensure that the Australian community is better informed about the fiscal impacts of policy proposals, particularly during election periods.
For the first time ever, all Members and Senators will have access to an independent and confidential costing service outside of a general election period. They will also be able to use a fully transparent policy costing service during election periods.
The bill implements the unanimous recommendations of the Joint Select Committee, which the Coalition signed up to five months ago.
It's disappointing that the Coalition has walked away from this bipartisan approach and voted against the bill.
The Coalition's revelation last month that they have a $70 billion crater in their budget numbers explains their desperation to avoid any scrutiny of their costings.
Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey has confirmed the Coalition will refuse any independent assessment of the Coalition's alternative budget before the next election.
He has abandoned the Coalition's previous support for the PBO agreed on by the Joint Select Committee, which included several senior Coalition shadow ministers.
Transparency is fundamental to ensuring the public is fully informed about the costs of election promises before they cast their vote.
Everyone remembers the $11 billion hole in the private sector costings that Mr Hockey presented to the Australian people, with unanswered questions still surrounding that so-called audit.
Mr Hockey's statement this week that he will not allow independent costings of his policies, but will instead rely on paid private-sector audits, paves the way for yet another massive costing disaster.
There are few issues more deserving of bipartisan support than those that enhance the transparency and accountability of our democracy. The Parliamentary Budget Office is an important institution that should be supported by all Members and Senators
21 September 2011