31. What is an unlegislated measure?
An ‘unlegislated measure’ is a policy that has been announced by the Government and included in its latest budget or mid-year update, but is not yet legislated by the Parliament. The costs of, or savings from, the measure that have been allowed for in the budget cannot be realised until the legislation is passed.
For example, suppose that in the budget the Government proposes saving money by restricting access to a legislated spending program. This budget proposal is an ‘unlegislated measure’ if Parliament needs to change the law to realise the savings. The savings from this measure are included in the budget but if the Government cannot get the legislation passed, they would not be realised and the budget estimates would need to be adjusted accordingly.
Not all budget measures require legislation. The measures that do are of interest because they can have large effects on the budget that depend on the parliamentary process.
32. Why does the PBO publish the estimated costs of unlegislated measures?
Publishing regular information about measures that could increase or decrease the budget by a significant amount is consistent with the PBO’s role of enhancing public understanding of the budget. Publishing information about large unlegislated measures improves public understanding of risks to the budget that arise from measures that are held up in the Parliament.
33. Does the PBO provide updated financial estimates for all unlegislated measures?
No. The PBO’s publication focuses on unlegislated policies (often referred to as ‘measures’) with significant financial implications. Assessment of measures for inclusion in the report is based on information provided by the Department of Finance.
Specifically, the unlegislated measures reports from 2019 onwards include any unlegislated measure that would have:
• increased or decreased the underlying cash balance by at least $100 million in any year of the forward estimates period when it was announced, and
• appeared in a budget or mid-year update more than one year ago, or within the past year but with a start date that has now passed.
34. How often does the PBO publish the information on the budget impact of unlegislated measures?
The PBO has published estimates of the budget impact of unlegislated measures since May 2015. From 2019, the PBO will generally publish updates in the first quarter of each calendar year, with a possible second publication in the third quarter if there are significant changes since the previous publication. For 2021, the PBO will seek to publish an update of the unlegislated measures report after the 2021-22 Budget, following the provision of updated information from the Department of Finance.
35. Why do the estimated costs of some unlegislated measures change over time?
The PBO estimates the budget impact of unlegislated measures at the time it publishes each update. These updates use the latest data, models and economic forecasts, and account for interactions with policy settings in the most recent baseline.
Frequently answered question 18 provides further details about why costing estimates for measures may change over time.