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Friday, 5 October 1984
Page: 1765

Mr O'NEIL —My question is directed to the Minister for Finance. Is the Government planning a mini-Budget early next year involving a repudiation of promises it will make in the forthcoming election context?

Mr DAWKINS —I have seen suggestions to this effect which have ranged from the fatuous to the ill-informed. I am delighted to have the opportunity that this question provides to nail this furphy once and for all. What is drawn on in making this suggestion is some further continuing reforms which we are making to the Budget process. These are two-fold. I should say, first of all, that we recognise that the system we inherited, whilst we have been doing a very good job with it, does have some inadequacies. We have, as revealed in the Budget reform paper and through other decisions, embarked on a program of reform of the Budget process.

The most recent decision that has been taken is to require an enhancement of the Forward Estimates for the next three years. These Forward Estimates have always been produced at the end of the calendar year, as they will be on this occasion. But they will be enhanced so that the Government will be in a better position to look earlier at the Budget process and the prospects for 1985-86. As well as that, we are requiring that staffing estimates for 1985-86 be made available to the Government in early 1985 so that again we can take decisions about next year's Budget in a proper context. We recognise that it is important to commence the planning for 1985-86 as early as possible and with the most up to date information that is available to us.

This suggestion is particularly baseless and particularly hard to understand when we look at the record of this Government and compare it with the record of our predecessors. We find from the record of our first Budget in 1983-84, the results of which are well known and publicised, that our outlays were $21m below those estimated at Budget time. If we compare that with the record of our predecessors-the discredited former Treasurer might like to ponder on these figures-we find that our predecessors overshot their expenditures by $244m in 1980-81 and by $463m in the following year. In their last year, their piece de resistance, they exceeded their budgeted outlays by nearly $2 billion. The further they went the worse they got. So on the basis of our record we not only brought in our outlays below that which was predicted at Budget time but also were able to bring in a deficit which was below that predicted at Budget time.

It is interesting that members of the Opposition and others should be spending so much time concentrating on next year's Budget because they know that not only that year's Budget but also the Budgets well into the future will be something over which this Party will have a monopoly. I suggest that the next year and future years will provide us with even greater opportunities for the Treasurer to win more international awards as the greatest finance Minister in the world.