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Monday, 12 September 2011
Page: 9595

Mr LAMING (Bowman) (13:43): In the time allowed I want to firmly put my support behind the coalition's proposal for a PBO, the very proposal that has led this scurrying government to follow up with a poorly thought out plan of their own, which effectively changes very little from what is already available in this parliament at the moment—that is, to hand over documents to Treasury and have them publicly released, as we effectively found out at the last federal election. What the coalition is talking about is based an international model of a fully independent PBO, which will allow economic forecasting to be performed. We need this budgetary analysis to be performed by an adequately resourced agency that is not present at the moment. We need something independent of Treasury and never was that more obvious than what we saw during the estimations and modelling done by TRIM in Treasury of the potential fiscal hole that was subsequent to the GFC. The Treasury's estimates were so far off it obviously led us into the spending and the GFC reaction that we saw from the then Rudd Labor government. Of course, Treasury then scurried around in the MYEFO and tried to clean it up, but it was way too late then. What we needed was a parliamentary budget office that could have looked at some of these proposals and given us another opportunity to get those estimates right. We do not need a PBO that has to go cap in hand and fill out MOUs with government agencies where those agencies have the ability to sign off on what they want and the power to distract or move away from areas where they chose. We certainly do not want to see a situation where everything is publicly released after the first tranche and there is no chance to improve these policies. We want something that suits both government and opposition—a PBO as the coalition has proposed.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. Peter Slipper ): Order! It being 1.45, the debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 43. The debate may be resumed at a later hour.