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Tuesday, 19 March 1985
Page: 385

Senator LEWIS —I ask the Minister for Finance whether he is aware that his predecessor, Mr Dawkins, made a statement on 7 September 1984 in which he said:

Another major reform involves the presentation of financial impact statements. In future, all second reading speeches of Ministers will include a statement of the financial impact of the legislation. These statements will include estimates of any significant costs, revenue and savings arising directly from that legislation.

He went on:

Ministers will also attempt to assess the impact on industry and other sections of the community when formulating legislation.

He concluded:

The Government is taking this action because it believes the community has a right to know the financial and economic effect of Government policies and programs. This reform will give tangible effect to this belief.

The Minister will be aware that no Minister made any such financial impact statement when introducing any legislation into this Parliament, except on one occasion when the Senate refused to pass legislation until it had seen such a financial impact statement. I ask this Minister for Finance: Does he adopt Mr Dawkins's proposal or does he refuse to accept that the people are entitled to know the financial and economic effect of government policies and programs?

Senator WALSH —The first question was whether I was aware of the statement made by Mr Dawkins. The answer is yes. Senator Lewis said that all Ministers, with one exception, had failed to comply with that. I do not believe that that is correct because Senator Grimes, who is sitting alongside me, tells me that he produced such a statement in presenting legislation. So I do not believe that that assertion is correct. It may be that not all Ministers have complied with that policy, bearing in mind that that is not just a Dawkins policy, but a decision of the Government. I will make inquiries to see whether Ministers have complied with that policy and if they have not I will endeavour to see that future second reading speeches do incorporate such information.