Under the Public Accounts and Audit Committee Act 1951, the Committee has broad inquiry powers relevant to Commonwealth reporting on financial matters. In particular, the Committee has a statutory duty to report to the Parliament on any alteration that it sees fit in the form of public accounts or the method of keeping them, and in the mode of receipt, control and payment of public moneys.
The Committee’s report into the use of alternative financing mechanisms focuses on issues raised in Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) Report 1/2020, Alternative Financing of Government Policies: Understanding the Fiscal Costs and Risks of Loans, Equity Injections and Guarantees. The PBO has an important statutory role in conducting and publishing research to improve public understanding of the budget and fiscal policy settings. In its report, the PBO emphasised that, over time, the level of transparency provided in the Budget Papers has ‘evolved and improved’. Against this background, the PBO identified several areas where budget reporting on the use of alternative financing mechanisms in government expenditure could be enhanced.
In our report, we have recommended implementation of the PBO’s proposals, in the interests of continuing to improve the level of transparency provided in the Budget Papers, and promote accountability to the Parliament and the Australian public.
I would like to thank the PBO and other entities for their involvement in this inquiry. I also thank my colleagues on the Committee for their work on this report.
Lucy Wicks MP