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Budget consultation a sham

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Deputy Leader of the Opposition



The private sector and community groups have been

blocked from having any effective pre-budget consultation

with the Government this year, "

The normal pre*budget discussions allowing more than

30 major business and community groups the opportunity

to provide their budget views, have been cancelled by

the Hawke Government, ·

Their place is supposed to be taken by a new Economic

Planning and Advisory Council of 15 people, half of

them public servants - but it has not yet been formed.

With the budget now only 6 weeks away and its outlines

already determined, not one member has yet been appointed

to this committee, which was announced more than 2

months ago, and is not due to meet until 25 July,

By that time the key budget decisions will all have

been firmly made without the benefit of any consultation


With this year’s budget being one of the most vital

in recent years, the exclusion of private sector advice

makes a mockery of Mr Hawke's continued calls for

consultation and consensus.

It is ludicrous for Mr Hawke to claim that EPAC, which

will not meet until 4 weeks before, the budget is brought

down, "will have an influence on the final decision the

Government will take on the August budget."

By this time last year, all pre-budget consultations

had been held.

2 .

It is either deliberately deceptive of Mr Hawke, or

a sign of monumental incompetence on his part to claim

that the budget framing process will still be going on

when EPAC holds its first meeting.

This is quite apart from the fact that the formation of

EPAC and the cancelling of the normal access the community

has to the Government during budget preparation is in

itself a significa?it reduction in the consultation that

was a feature of the previous government's policy.

The previous Government's practice of holding

pre-budget consultations allowedaiseful

discussions between the Government and a

wide range of groups broadly representative

of the Australian community which included

unions, business organisations, consumer groups,

welfare and social organisations, women's groups

and farmers.

The pre-budget consultation process, although ■

having some limitations, provided a valuable

input into the formulation of the budget.

The new Government thinks it has a monopoly

on consultation. It should be remembered

that the previous Government made extensive

use of forums such as pre-budget consul tat ions

and the tripartite economic, conference to hear the

views of all sectors of Australian society.

Indeed, the nature of the substantial taxation

relief provided to low and middle income

earners in last year's budget owed much to the

consultations which occurred between the

Government and the ACTU before that budget

was put together. · . .

CANBERRA 11 July 1983