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Thursday, 14 February 2019
Page: 10245


Senator RUSTON (South AustraliaAssistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific) (12:51): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

The Parliamentary Service Amendment (Post-election Report) Bill 2018 amends the Parliamentary Service Act /999 in relation to the timing for the release of the post-election report of election commitments, prepared by the Parliamentary Budget Office.

The Parliamentary Service Act 1999 requires the

Parliamentary Budget Office to prepare and publicly release a post-election report on election commitments, following a general election. The report presents the budget impacts of election commitments that would have a material impact on the Commonwealth Budget, and provides an indication of the total impact a party's election platform would have on the Commonwealth Budget for the current and next three financial years, if those election commitments were enacted as announced.

An independent review (the review) was established in November 2016 to examine how the Parliamentary Budget Office could continue to build on its foundations. The review was undertaken by Dr Ian Watt and Mr Barry Anderson, and the report of recommendations was published in March 2017.

The review recommended allowing more time to prepare the report, noting that other recommendations of the review were to increase the scope of the report by including the medium-term financial impacts of election commitments and including the policies of parties with less than five members where those parties elect to be included. The Parliamentary Budget Office is already working to implement these changes to the scope of the report, which does not require legislative change.

Only the proposal to change the timing of the post-election report requires change to legislation. The Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit and the Presiding Officers have agreed to the change in timing for the publication of the report. The delayed publication is not only intended to accommodate the changed scope of these reports by the Parliamentary Budget Office, but is also expected to enhance the visibility of the post-election report by moving the timing closer to the resumption of parliamentary sittings.

It is important for all Australians that there is transparency when it comes to identifying the Budget impacts of election commitments. It is important the post-election report is accessible, informative and still available in time to inform deliberations of parliament. And it is desirable that the new arrangements to enhance the visibility of the report are in place before the next post-election report is published.