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Parliamentary Service Amendment (Parliamentary Budget Officer) Bill 2013

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2010-2011-2012-2013

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

Parliamentary Service Amendment (Parliamentary Budget Officer) Bill 2013

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by the authority of the

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, the Hon Wayne Swan MP)

 



Table of contents

Glossary.............................................................................................................. 1

General outline and financial impact............................................................ 3

Chapter 1               Amendments to the Parliamentary Service Act 1999.... 5

Chapter 2               Amendments to the Taxation Administration Act 1953 17

Chapter 3               Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights........... 19

Index................................................................................................................. 21

 

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The following abbreviations and acronyms are used throughout this explanatory memorandum.

Abbreviation

Definition

ATO

Australian Taxation Office

Authorised member

The Leader of a Parliamentary party, or a member of a Parliamentary party authorised, in writing, by the Leader of the Parliamentary party.

Caretaker costing

A policy costing prepared on a request made under subsections 64J(2) or (5) of the PS Act.

Caretaker period

The period starting when the House of Representatives expires or is dissolved, and ending when it is clear that the Government has been re-elected or, if there is a change of Government, when the new Government has been sworn in.

Charter

Schedule 1 to the Charter of Budget Honesty Act 1998 .

Commonwealth body

(a)     an Agency within the meaning of the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 ;

(b)      the High Court of Australia; or

(c)     a Commonwealth authority or Commonwealth company within the meaning of the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 .

Designated Parliamentary party

A political party at least five members of which are Parliamentarians.

General election

A general election of the members of the House of Representatives.

Officer

The Parliamentary Budget Officer.

Parliamentarian

A Senator or a Member of the House of Representatives.

Parliamentary party

(a)      a political party with at least one member who is a member of the Parliament of the Commonwealth; and

 

Parliamentary party (continued)

(b)    during a caretaker period for a general election — includes a political party at least one member of which was a member of the Parliament of the Commonwealth immediately before the caretaker period.

PBO

The Department of the Parliamentary Budget Office

Polling day

The day fixed for polling in an election.

PS Act

Parliamentary Service Act 1999



Amendments to the functions and operation of the Parliamentary Budget Office

The Parliamentary Budget Officer (the Officer) will have an additional function: to prepare a report on designated Parliamentary parties’ publicly announced policies by 30 days after a government forms following a general election.  In support of this function and the Officer’s caretaker costings function, there will be a specific framework for the provision of information to the Officer.  The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will also be able to provide taxpayer information to the Officer on a confidential basis, to assist the Officer in performing or exercising all the Officer’s functions or powers.

Date of effect The measures in this Bill take effect on the day after the Bill receives the Royal Assent.

Proposal announced The Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer announced key details of this proposal on 22 February 2013.

Financial impact This Bill has no significant financial impact on Commonwealth expenditure or revenue.

Human rights implications :  This Bill does not raise any human rights issues.  See Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights — Chapter 3, paragraphs 3.1 to 3.6.

Compliance cost impact :  Nil.

Summary of regulation impact statement

The Office of Best Practice Regulation considers that the proposed changes do not have a regulatory impact on business or the not-for-profit sector.  Accordingly, no further analysis (in the form of a Regulation Impact Statement) is required.

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Outline of chapter

1.1                   Schedule 1 to the Parliamentary Service Amendment (Parliamentary Budget Officer) Bill 2013 (the Bill) amends the Parliamentary Service Act 1999 (PS Act) to give the Officer the function of preparing a report including costings of designated Parliamentary parties’ publicly announced policies within 30 days after a government forms following a general election.  Schedule 1 also introduces a specific information-gathering process for the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) to facilitate the preparation of the post-election report and of policy costings during the caretaker period.

Context of amendments

1.2                   The Officer and the PBO were established as a fourth Parliamentary department by the Parliamentary Service Amendment (Parliamentary Budget Officer) Act 2011 .  The PBO’s purpose is to inform the Parliament by providing independent and non-partisan analysis of the budget cycle, fiscal policy and the financial implications of proposals.

1.3                   Currently, the PBO supports the Officer in performing five functions:

•        outside of the caretaker period — preparing policy costings on request by Parliamentarians;

•        during the caretaker period — preparing policy costings on request by authorised members of Parliamentary parties, or independent members;

•        preparing responses (other than policy costings) to Parliamentarians’ requests relating to the budget;

•        preparing submissions to inquiries of Parliamentary committees at the request of committees; and

•        conducting research on and analysis of the budget and fiscal policy settings, on the Officer’s own initiative.

1.4                   The amendments in this Bill are intended to enhance transparency in fiscal policy debate in Australia, by requiring the Officer to publish policy costings of designated Parliamentary parties’ election commitments by 30 days after a general election.

Summary of new law

1.5                   Schedule 1 to the Bill amends Part 7, Division 2 of the PS Act to provide the Officer with the additional function of producing a post-election report that includes policy costings of political parties’ publicly announced policies, and indicates the total combined financial impact of those policies.

1.6                   Schedule 1 also sets out a specific process for the PBO to obtain information from Commonwealth bodies to facilitate the preparation of the post-election report and the preparation of policy costings during the caretaker period.  For these purposes, the Officer may request information from Heads of Commonwealth bodies, and those bodies must comply in time for the information to be considered in the preparation of the report or costing (subject to certain exceptions).  In relation to the post-election report only, the Officer may request information from designated Parliamentary parties and certain other persons.  These processes complements but does not replace the existing arrangements under section 64F of the PS Act.

Comparison of key features of new law and current law

New law

Current law

The PBO will publish a report including policy costings on the publicly announced policies of designated Parliamentary parties, and the total combined impact of those policies.

The PBO can prepare policy costings on request by Parliamentarians.  There is no general requirement to publish costings of election commitments, aside from costings prepared on request by an authorised member of a Parliamentary party during the caretaker period.

Commonwealth bodies must comply with PBO requests for information in time for the information to be considered, subject to limited exceptions.

No legislated process for responding to PBO requests for information.  Requests for information are dealt with on a case-by-case basis, or are governed by arrangements in place under section 64F.

Detailed explanation of new law

Post-election reports of publicly announced election commitments

1.7                   The Officer’s current functions are set out in section 64E of the PS Act.  The Bill inserts a new function: to report on publicly announced policies of designated Parliamentary parties after a general election.  [Schedule 1, item 5, paragraph 64E(1)(da)]

Contents of the report

1.8                   The post-election report is to include policy costings of the publicly announced policies of the designated Parliamentary parties.  It is to set out, for each designated Parliamentary party, the total combined impact those policies would have on the Commonwealth budget for the current financial year and the following three financial years.  [Schedule 1, item 10, subsection 64MA(1)]

Policy costings of election commitments

1.9                   It is part of the Officer’s current functions to prepare policy costings.  Outside the caretaker period for a general election, the PBO prepares policy costings on request by Parliamentarians (which may be treated as confidential on request).  During the caretaker period, the PBO prepares policy costings on request by authorised members of Parliamentary parties or independent members (which are to be publicly released by the Officer).

1.10               The policy costings for inclusion in the post-election report are to be prepared based on lists provided by designated Parliamentary parties (see below, ‘Election commitments’).  [Schedule 1, item 10, paragraph 64MA(1)(a)]  These costings may or may not have been prepared previously at the request of such parties.  If the PBO had prepared relevant policy costings prior to the release of the latest budget report released under Schedule 1 to the Charter of Budget Honesty Act 1998 (the Charter), which is likely to be the pre-election economic and fiscal outlook, the costings would need to be updated to reflect the most recent economic forecasts and parameters and fiscal estimates.  [Subsection 64E(3) of the PS Act]

Total impact of election commitments

1.11               The post-election report is to set out, for each designated Parliamentary party included in the report, the total combined impact those policies would have on the Commonwealth budget sector and Commonwealth general government sector fiscal estimates for the current financial year and the following three financial years.  [Schedule 1, item 10, paragraph 64MA(1)(b)]

1.12               This is intended to provide an indication of the total impact a designated Parliamentary party’s election platform would have on the Commonwealth budget, if they were enacted as announced.  Consistent with budget reports prepared under the Charter, totals are to be presented for the current financial year and the following three financial years.

Information not included in the report

1.13               The post-election report does not have to include information that the Officer considers should not be included because it is confidential commercial information, or because its disclosure could prejudice national security.  [Schedule 1, item 10, subsection 64MA(5)]  This is consistent with the requirements for budget reports under the Charter (see, for example, subclause 24(5) of the Charter).

1.14               The post-election report must not include information given to the Officer by the Head of a Commonwealth body, under the relevant information-gathering power, if the Head has requested that the information be kept confidential (see below under ‘Consequential amendments’).  [Schedule 1, item 10, note to subsection 64MA(5)]

The report may be qualified

1.15               If the Officer does not have sufficient information, or has not had sufficient time, to assess the cost of an election commitment, this may be noted in the post-election report.  [Schedule 1, item 10, subsection 64MA(6)]

Election commitments

1.16               The policies to be costed and included in the post-election report are those that the designated Parliamentary parties have publicly announced as election commitments.

1.17               Lists of election commitments for inclusion in the post-election report are to be provided by the designated Parliamentary parties.  By 5 pm on the day before polling day for the general election, each designated Parliamentary party must give the Officer a list, in writing, of the policies that the party has publicly announced it intends to seek to have implemented after the election.  [Schedule 1, item 10, subsection 64MA(3)]

1.18               On the day after polling day, the Officer is to release publicly each list given to it by a designated Parliamentary party.  If a designated Parliamentary party has not given a list to the Officer, the Officer is to release a statement to this effect.  [Schedule 1, item 10, subsection 64MA(4)]

1.19               The list of policies given to the Officer is the list of policies to be costed in the post-election report; no other policies will be costed in the report.  [Schedule 1, item 10, paragraph 64MA(1)(a)]  If a designated Parliamentary party does not provide a list of policies to the Officer, its policies will not appear in the post-election report.

Designated Parliamentary parties

1.20               Only the election commitments of designated Parliamentary parties are to be included in the report.  Broadly, a designated Parliamentary party is a political party with five or more members in the Commonwealth Parliament before the election.  This is intended to strike a balance between ensuring most election commitments made during an election campaign are included in the report, and the practicality of delivering a rigorous report within 30 days.

1.21               A ‘designated Parliamentary party’ is to be defined in section 7 of the PS Act as a political party, during a caretaker period for a general election, at least five members of which were members of the Parliament of the Commonwealth (Parliamentarians) immediately before the caretaker period.  [Schedule 1, item 2, section 7]  A party with four, three, two, one or no Parliamentarians before the caretaker period would not be included in the post-election report, even if the party has five or more Parliamentarians after the election.  A party with five or more Parliamentarians before the caretaker period would be included in the post-election report, even if it has four Parliamentarians or fewer after the election.

1.22               For the purposes of the post-election report, the Officer may treat two or more Parliamentary parties (being any political party with at least one Parliamentarian) as a single designated Parliamentary party if:

•        those parties would, if they had been a single political party during the caretaker period, have been a designated Parliamentary party during that period; and

•        those parties, in writing, jointly request the Officer to do so.  [Schedule 1, item 10, subsection 64MA(2)]

1.23               This provision is intended to allow the post-election report to have a single section for the election commitments of a coalition made up of a number of Parliamentary parties.  The parties forming part of the coalition must be Parliamentary parties, but need not have been designated Parliamentary parties in their own right.  For example, a coalition of a party with seventy Parliamentarians, a party with ten Parliamentarians and a party with two Parliamentarians could be treated as a single designated Parliamentary party, if each of the parties request that the Officer do so.  A party with four Parliamentarians and a party with one Parliamentarian could also be treated as a single designated Parliamentary party, if each of the parties request that the Officer do so.  The Bill does not prescribe a time for this request to be made; the request should be made within time for the PBO to act on it.

Information-gathering for the post-election report

1.24               Currently, the Officer is able to request and acquire information for the purposes of carrying out its functions.  There is a framework for obtaining information from Commonwealth bodies set out in section 64F of the PS Act.  Section 64F allows an arrangement — such as a Memorandum of Understanding — to be made between the Officer and the Head of a Commonwealth body for the provision of information and documents relevant to the Officer’s functions.

1.25               This Bill complements the existing section 64F by introducing a specific information-gathering process for the post-election report.  However, nothing in this specific process limits any other power of the Officer to obtain information, including under an arrangement in place for section 64F.  [Schedule 1, item 10, subsection 64MB(8)]

1.26               A similar process is to be introduced for policy costings requested during the caretaker period (see below ‘Information-gathering for caretaker costings’).

Information about election commitments

1.27               If the Officer needs more information about a policy it is costing for the purposes of the post-election report, he or she may ask an authorised member of the Parliamentary party that announced the policy, or certain third parties, for that information.  [Schedule 1, item 10, subsection 64MB(1)]

1.28               An ‘authorised member’ of a Parliamentary party is defined in section 7 of the PS Act as either the Leader of the Parliamentary party, or a member of the Parliamentary party that the Leader has authorised to act in relation to relevant provisions of the PS Act.  Since only the policies of designated Parliamentary parties are included in the post-election report, only authorised members who are members of designated Parliamentary parties will be asked for information under this provision.

1.29               The Officer may also ask any other person for information needed to prepare the post-election report, if the Officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person has been associated with the calculation, review or announcement of the financial implications of a policy that is to be costed.  [Schedule 1, item 10, paragraph 64MB(1)(b)]  This may include, for example, a person who prepared or audited policy costings for the purposes of a designated Parliamentary party’s policy announcement.

1.30               Neither an authorised member of a Parliamentary party nor a relevant third party is required to comply with or respond to a request for information under this provision.  Similarly to the provisions of the Charter, this information-gathering process does not create rights or duties that are enforceable in judicial or other proceedings.   [Schedule 1, item 10, subsection 64MB(9)]   Rather, it establishes a cooperative mechanism for providing information to the PBO.

Information from Commonwealth bodies

Information requests

1.31               To help the Officer prepare the post-election report, the Officer may — during the caretaker period and the 30-day period after caretaker — request the Head of a Commonwealth body to give information to the Officer.  [Schedule 1, item 10, subsections 64MB(2) and (3)]

1.32               The Head of a Commonwealth body must comply with such a request in time for the information to be taken into account in preparing the post-election report.  [Schedule 1, item 10, subsection 64MB(4)]  The Head does not have to comply with a such a request if:

•        it is not practicable to do so;

•        it would be unlawful to do so;

•        it would require the disclosure of confidential commercial information; or

•        it would require the disclosure of information that could prejudice national security.  [Schedule 1, item 10, subsection 64MB(4)]

1.33               This provision reflects the information-provision process in clause 32 of the Charter, which applies when the Secretaries of the Departments of the Treasury and of Finance and Deregulation (the ‘responsible Secretaries’) are preparing policy costings of election commitments.

1.34               The provision is also intended to protect information that is commercially confidential or that could prejudice national security if disclosed (which, in any event, may not be included in the post-election report).  Additionally, the Head of a Commonwealth body may request that some or all of the information it provides to the Officer be kept confidential, imposing certain confidentiality obligations under section 64V of the PS Act.  [Schedule 1, item 10, subsection 64MB(5)]

1.35               Like the process for seeking information from designated Parliamentary parties and certain third parties, this process does not create rights or duties that are enforceable in judicial or other proceedings.  [Schedule 1, item 10, subsection 64MB(9)]   The measure establishes a cooperative mechanism for sharing information held by Commonwealth bodies for the purposes of costing election commitments.

Charter costings

1.36               As soon as practicable after the end of the caretaker period, the responsible Secretaries are to give the Officer any policy costings that had been prepared during the caretaker period under the Charter.  [Schedule 1, item 10, subsection 64MB(6)]   Again, this does not create enforceable rights or duties.

1.37               Under Part 8 of the Charter, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of a minority party may ask the responsible Secretaries to prepare costings of any of the party’s publicly announced policies.  These costings, once prepared, are released publicly by the responsible Secretaries.

1.38               The Officer may include a policy costing from the responsible Secretaries in the post-election report, if the costing is for a policy that is on the list to be included in the report.  However, the Officer is not required to do so, and may prepare a new costing of the same policy for inclusion in the report.  [Schedule 1, item 10, subsection 64MB(7)]  The Officer therefore is responsible for which costings appear in the report.

Publishing the post-election report

1.39               The post-election report is to be publicly released no later than 30 days after the end of the caretaker period for a general election.  [Schedule 1, item 10, subsection 64MC(1)]

1.40               The ‘caretaker period’ is already defined in section 7 of the PS Act, as having the same meaning as in the Charter.  The caretaker period is there defined, for a general election, as the period starting when the House of Representatives expires or is dissolved, and ending when it is clear that the government has been re-elected or, if there is a change of government, when the new government has been sworn in.  The 30-day period in which the report is to be prepared therefore begins on the day after a government forms following a general election; this may or may not be the day after polling day.

Consultation with designated Parliamentary parties

1.41               The Officer is to give each designated Parliamentary party a copy of that part of the report which sets out costings and totals for that party’s election commitments at least 48 hours before publicly releasing the post-election report.  [Schedule 1, item 10, subsection 64MC(2)]  The part of the report must be accompanied by a notice informing the party that the part of the report must be kept confidential, and requesting any comments from the party.  [Schedule 1, item 10, subsection 64MC(3)]  If the Officer is given comments from the party, it may include the comments in the report, or revise the report to take account of the comments, if it is practicable to do so.  [Schedule 1, item 10, subsection 64MC(4)]

Information-gathering for caretaker costings

1.42               The Bill introduces a specific information-gathering process for the preparation of the post-election report, in recognition of the statutory timeframe of 30 days in which the report must be prepared.  Timeframes just as confined apply to the Officer when preparing policy costings during the caretaker period; the Officer must publicly release such costings as soon as practicable after a request has been made.  For this reason, a similar information-gathering process applies during the caretaker period in relation to this function.

1.43               To help the Officer prepare a policy costing requested during the caretaker period, the Officer may request the Head of a Commonwealth body to give information to the Officer.  [Schedule 1, item 9, subsection 64KA(1)]   The Officer may make a request in relation to a costing request received before polling day on any day after receiving the costing request up to the day before polling day.  [Schedule 1, item 9, paragraph 64KA(2)(a)]   The Officer may make a request in relation to a costing request received on or after polling day on any day after receiving the costing request up to the end of the caretaker period.  [Schedule 1, item 9, paragraph 64KA(2)(b)]

1.44               The Head of a Commonwealth body must comply with such a request in time for the information to be taken into account in preparing the relevant policy costing.  [Schedule 1, item 9, subsection 64KA(3)]   The Head does not have to comply with a such a request if:

•        it is not practicable to do so;

•        it would be unlawful to do so;

•        it would require the disclosure of confidential commercial information; or

•        it would require the disclosure of information that could prejudice national security.  [Schedule 1, item 9, subsection 64KA(3)]

1.45               This reflects the information-provision process in clause 32 of the Charter, which applies when the responsible Secretaries are preparing policy costings of election commitments.  It is appropriate that similar processes apply for similar tasks in similar circumstances.

1.46               Similarly, this measure is also intended to protect information that is commercially confidential or that could prejudice national security if disclosed.  Additionally, the Head of a Commonwealth body may request that some or all of the information it provides to the Officer be kept confidential, imposing the confidentiality obligations under section 64V of the PS Act.  [Schedule 1, item 9, subsection 64KA(4)]

1.47               Like the process relevant to the post-election report, and the processes in the Charter, this measure does not create rights or duties that are enforceable in judicial or other proceedings.  [Schedule 1, item 9, subsection 64KA(6)]   The measure establishes a cooperative mechanism for sharing information held by Commonwealth bodies for the purposes of costing election commitments.  Similarly, nothing in this specific process limits any other power of the Officer to obtain information, including under an arrangement in place for section 64F.  [Schedule 1, item 9, subsection 64KA(5)]

Application and transitional provisions

1.48               The amendments in Schedule 1 to the Bill commence on the day after the Act receives the Royal Assent, and there are no specific application provisions.  [Clause 2]

Consequential amendments

1.49               The Bill introduces a definition of ‘responsible Secretaries’ into the PS Act for the purposes of the PBO provisions.  [Schedule 1, item 4, section 7]  It is convenient to use this definition to support similar meanings in existing subsection 64G(1) and paragraph 64K(a).  Therefore, the relevant words in those provisions are omitted and replaced with the words ‘responsible Secretaries’.  [Schedule 1, items 6 and 8]

1.50               The Bill also refers to an ‘authorised member’ of a designated political party, in connection with the new post-election report.  The definition of ‘authorised member’ in section 7 of the PS Act is amended to reflect the additional responsibility of an authorised member.  [Schedule 1, item 1]

1.51               Section 64V of the PS Act currently sets out confidentiality requirements for the PBO, including in relation to information provided to the PBO in accordance with an arrangement with a Commonwealth body under section 64F of the PS Act.  The Bill amends section 64V to provide for the confidentiality of information provided under the information-gathering processes for the post-election report and for caretaker costings.  The Officer, a Parliamentary Service employee assisting the Officer, or a person acting under the direction or authority of the Officer, must not disclose information given to the Officer under those information-gathering processes, if the Head of the Commonwealth body who provided the information requested that the information be kept confidential.  [Schedule 1, item 12, subsection 64V(4A)]  Such a person can disclose the information for the purpose of preparing the post-election report or caretaker costing, but the information must not be disclosed in the report.  [Schedule 1, item 12, subsection 64V(4B)]

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Outline of chapter

2.1                   Schedule 2 to this Bill allows the ATO to provide the Officer with otherwise protected taxpayer information so that he or she can properly perform or exercise his or her statutory functions or powers under the PS Act.

Context of amendments

2.2                   Providing the PBO with access to this information will further enhance the integrity of the PBO’s revenue costings and analyses.  In conjunction with the amendments contained in Schedule 1 to this Bill, these amendments will also help to promote and inform fiscal policy debate in Australia.

Summary of new law

2.3                   Schedule 2 to this Bill provides a new exception to the confidentiality of taxpayer information provisions in Division 355 of Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (TA Act).  These provisions make it an offence for a taxation officer (including the Commissioner of Taxation) to make a record of, or disclose, protected information.  This is information that was acquired by virtue of being a taxation officer and identifies or is reasonably capable of identifying the relevant taxpayer.

2.4                   The exception allows taxation officers (effectively, the ATO) to provide the PBO with otherwise protected information, which may include information that may identify, or is reasonably capable of being able to identify, a taxpaying entity.  However, the ATO can only provide such information for the purposes of the Officer performing or exercising his or her statutory functions or powers under the PS Act. [Schedule 2, item 1, subsection 355-65(4)]

2.5                   As with all exceptions to the taxpayer secrecy provisions, the information provided to the PBO must be kept confidential, and be only used for the strict purposes provided for in this Bill.

Comparison of key features of new law and current law

New law

Current law

The ATO can make a record of, or disclose, information to the Officer which identifies or is reasonably capable of identifying taxpaying entities, but only for the purposes of the Officer performing or exercising his or her functions or powers under the PS Act.

The ATO is precluded from making a record of, or disclosing, information to the Officer which could identify or would reasonably be capable of identifying taxpaying entities.

Application and transitional provisions

2.6                   The amendment in Schedule 2 to the Bill commences on the day after the Act receives the Royal Assent, and there are no specific application provisions. [Clause 2]

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Chapter 3          

Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

Parliamentary Service Amendment (Parliamentary Budget Officer) Bill 2013

3.1                   This Bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

Overview

3.1                   This Bill provides the Parliamentary Budget Officer (the Officer ) with an additional function: to publish a report on designated Parliamentary parties’ publicly announced policies by 30 days after a government forms following a general election.  The Bill introduces a specific framework for the provision of information to the Officer connected with its functions during the caretaker period for a general election.

3.2                   This Bill also ensures that the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will be able to provide taxpayer information to the Officer on a confidential basis to assist the Officer in performing or exercising his or her functions or powers.

Human rights implications

3.3                   Item 1 of Schedule 2 to the Bill may limit the prohibition on interference with privacy in Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), as it authorises the ATO to disclose objectively personal information which it has collected.

3.4                   Article 17 of the ICCPR provides that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with their privacy.  Collecting, using, storing, disclosing, sharing or publishing personal information amounts to an interference with privacy.  In order for the interference with privacy not to be ‘arbitrary’, any interference with privacy must be in accordance with the provisions, aims and objectives of the ICCPR and should be reasonable in the particular circumstances.  Reasonableness, in this context, incorporates notions of proportionality to the end sought and necessity in the circumstances.

3.5                   Allowing the ATO to disclose personal information to the Officer will enhance the integrity of the PBO’s revenue costings and analyses, which in turn, will help promote and inform fiscal policy debate in Australia.

3.6                   Furthermore, given that the Officer would only receive information for the purpose of performing or exercising his or her functions or powers under the PS Act, and is prohibited from on-disclosing this information, disclosing such information to the Officer would not constitute unlawful or arbitrary interference.

Conclusion

3.7                   This Bill is compatible with human rights because to the extent that it may limit human rights, those limitations are reasonable, necessary and proportionate.

The Hon Wayne Swan MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer

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Schedule 1:  Main Amendments

Bill reference

Paragraph number

Item 1

1.50

Item 2, section 7

1.21

Item 4, section 7

1.49

Item 5, paragraph 64E(1)(da)

1.7

Items 6 and 8

1.49

Item 9, subsection 64KA(3)

1.44

Item 9, subsection 64KA(4)

1.46

Item 9, subsection 64KA(6)

1.47

Item 9, subsection 64KA(5)

1.47

Item 9, subsection 64KA(1)

1.43

Item 9, paragraph 64KA(2)(a)

1.43

Item 9, paragraph 64KA(2)(b)

1.43

Item 10, subsection 64MB(1)

1.27

Item 10, paragraph 64MB(1)(b)

1.29

Item 10, subsection 64MB(9)

1.30, 1.35

Item 10, subsections 64MB(2) and (3)

1.31

Item 10, subsection 64MB(4)

1.32

Item 10, subsection 64MB(5)

1.34

Item 10, subsection 64MB(6)

1.36

Item 10, subsection 64MB(7)

1.38

Item 10, subsection 64MC(1)

1.39

Item 10, subsection 64MC(2)

1.41

Item 10, subsection 64MC(3)

1.41

Item 10, subsection 64MC(4)

1.41

Item 10, paragraph 64MA(1)(a)

1.10, 1.19

Item 10, paragraph 64MA(1)(b)

1.11

Item 10, subsection 64MA(5)

1.13

Item 10, note to subsection 64MA(5)

1.14

Item 10, subsection 64MA(6)

1.15

Item 10, subsection 64MA(3)

1.17

Item 10, subsection 64MA(4)

1.18

Item 10, subsection 64MA(1)

1.8

Item 10, subsection 64MA(2)

1.22

Item 10, subsection 64MB(8)

1.25

Item 12, subsection 64V(4A)

1.51

Item 12, subsection 64V(4B)

1.51

 

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