Parliamentary Budget Offices

According to research conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) there has been a growing trend towards greater involvement of national legislatures in budgetary matters in order to increase transparency and accountability of budget processes. The OECD's 2007 project, the International Budget Practices and Procedures database, indicated that out of the 97 countries surveyed, 29 countries had a specialised budget research office and 61 did not. In particular, the survey found that more than half of all the countries included in the study had a larger budgetary role than they had a decade earlier.

On 23 June 2010, the Coalition
announced that it would introduce a Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) which would "provide objective and impartial advice and analysis across the parliament on the Commonwealth budget and budget cycle, including the impact of major policy announcements". On 12 August 2010, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, confirmed that a Liberal Government would introduce a PBO which "would be accountable to the Parliament, not to the Executive and would undertake cost-benefit analyses for all major new government spending decisions. It would be a politically independent alternative to the Treasury as a potential source of policy advice and economic research."
Likewise, the former Leader of the Opposition, Malcolm Turnbull, proposed a PBO in his Budget 2009
Address in Reply.

The Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration is currently holding an inquiry into the Parliamentary Budget Office Bill 2010, which was introduced by Senator Guy Barnett (Liberal) on 24 June 2010. With the proroguing of Parliament due to the 2010 election, the inquiry has been placed on hold, but it is expected to publish an interim report some time this year.

The Library's submission to this inquiry is available on the Senate Committee


Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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