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Wednesday, 7 September 1983
Page: 482

Mr MOORE —by leave-The Opposition welcomes any move that grants greater access to information, particularly factual information, rather than some of the political information we hear so often at Question Time. Naturally this approach would be welcomed. However, the Minister for Finance (Mr Dawkins) has come forward and said that the Government has already introduced major improvements to the Budget system. It convened the National Economic Summit Conference. What was the major contribution there? Firstly, it got everybody to endorse a Budget deficit of $8.5 billion. We can work backwards from that. Secondly, it established the Economic Planning Advisory Council. As I understand it, a meeting of that Council did not take place until after the Budget was concluded. Those two major reforms to the Budget system seem to me to be somewhat outmoded.

The former Government went to some pains to set up genuine consultative meetings with members of the business world and all the interested groups within Australian society. Those were meetings of considerable merit. Things were discussed and points of view were exchanged. In the lead up to this Budget those consultations were thrown out the window. I point to that as a very big difference in terms of an approach to the public. There is not one member of the Opposition who would not be concerned about the whole question of achieving value for the taxpayer's dollar-the question of how the taxpayer's dollar is spent within the departments and the overall management role within the Public Service. It has long been my view that an approach should be made in this place for the greater use of one-line budgetary systems. In that way the management of the departments would be thrown much more on to management's judgement and metal . I am convinced that the response would be positive. In some of the lengthy budgetary processes areas are itemised with so much allotted to one area and so much allotted to another. At the end of a period we have a situation of unspent allocations in a particular account, a slight overspending in another account and a great desire then to spend what is left and to carry forward some of the costs or to curtail services in other areas. I am quite convinced that this is not helpful to the Public Service and to Australia as a nation. I hope that this ongoing review will look at this process as I believe far more benefit would come to the whole of the Australian economy from that concept.