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Tuesday, 8 May 2018
Page: 2592


Senator SMITH (Western AustraliaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (17:59): I make a statement by way of a report relating to the draft budget estimates for the Australian National Audit Office and the Parliamentary Budget Office for 2018-19. I will also table the statement.

Each year, the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit is required by legislation to consider the draft budget estimates of the Parliamentary Budget Office and the Australian National Audit Office and make recommendations to both houses of the parliament. I rise this evening to fulfil this requirement and to make a statement on whether the committee considers that the proposed funding for these offices is sufficient to carry out their respective mandates.

With regards to the Parliamentary Budget Office, the committee has been informed that the PBO is not seeking supplementation in the 2018-19 budget. The Parliamentary Budget Office has advised the committee that existing resources will be sufficient for the PBO's estimated expenses in 2018-19. The committee notes that the PBO's special appropriation is expected to be fully drawn down by the end of 2020-21 and will continue to consult with the Parliamentary Budget Officer regarding future resourcing requirements.

The committee also notes the recent independent review of the PBO, which made 16 recommendations. Under the direction of the new Parliamentary Budget Officer, work is continuing to implement these recommendations, including establishing a panel of expert advisers to consult on policy costings and fiscal policy issues, issuing an information paper outlining the PBO's costing processes, time frames and prioritisational framework, a consultation paper outlining how many parties could be included in post-election reports and the publication of information papers explaining the methodological issues associated with various policy costings.

The committee endorses the proposed 2018-19 budget for the Parliamentary Budget Office and commends the PBO for its contributions to the parliament and the public through high-quality fiscal analysis and research.

With regard to the Australian National Audit Office, the committee has been informed that the Australian National Audit Office is not seeking supplementation in the 2018-19 budget. The Auditor-General has advised the committee that the Australian National Audit Office estimated expenses can be met within existing resources and that he anticipates completing approximately 48 performance audits over the period. The Australian National Audit Office has flagged its continuing focus on audits of Commonwealth entity annual performance statements. The committee looks forward to reviewing the Australian National Audit Office work in this area with a view to improving the quality of performance information provided under the Public Governance Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

The committee endorses the proposed budget for the Australian National Audit Office in the 2018-19 period and thanks the ANAO for its work in supporting public accountability and transparency, including through audits under the Commonwealth performance framework. In conclusion, the committee will continue to closely monitor the work programs and draft budget estimates of the PBO and Australian National Audit Office. As independent authorities, the PBO and the ANAO need to be sufficiently funded to fulfil their legislative requirements and adequately support the work of the parliament.

The committee thanks the Parliamentary Budget Officer and the Auditor-General for their work in support of the parliament and their efforts to maintain a strong working relationship with the committee. They have made themselves available for regular briefings and provided invaluable advice to the committee on a variety of matters. The committee looks forward to continuing these productive relationships into the future.