Thursday, 20 June 2013
Parliamentary Service Amendment (Parliamentary Budget Officer) Bill 2013; Second Reading
The coalition is supporting the Parliamentary Service Amendment (Parliamentary Budget Officer) Bill 2013. This bill amends the Parliamentary Service Act 1999 to give the Parliamentary Budget Officer the function of preparing a report, including costings, of the publicly announced policies of designated parliamentary parties within 30 days after a government forms following a general election. The establishment of a parliamentary budget office was a coalition election commitment in the 2010 federal election. On 23 March 2011, following the 2010 federal election, the government established the Joint Select Committee on the Parliamentary Budget Office to inquire into the proposed Parliamentary Budget Office, which subsequently recommended that a PBO be established. The coalition introduced its own version of a PBO on 22 August 2011 and the government immediately followed and introduced its own legislation. The government introduced its own bill into the parliament on 24 August 2011, and it is this bill which is now being amended.
This bill seeks to make an amendment to the Parliamentary Budget Office's functions by adding a sixth function. This function will be to audit election costings of all parties within 30 days after a government is formed. Specifically, the Parliamentary Budget Office will be required to prepare a report before the end of 30 days after the election for each parliamentary party on the costings of publicly announced policies and the total combined costs, the impact those policies would have on the Commonwealth budget. The coalition views this as a sensible initiative and is supportive of this change.
In summary, the coalition welcomes these amendments to the operation of the Parliamentary Budget Office. They apply equally to all parties. They will ensure that all parties are honest in their policy commitments and that all policies are fully and accurately costed. I commend the bill to the Senate.