Jenny Leong speaks on the issues of the parliamentary budget office closing and opening with election cycles

I make a contribution to the take-note debate on the Public Accounts Committee'sReport on the Parliamentary Budget Office 2023 Post-Election Report and acknowledge the comments made by the Chair. As a member of the Public Accounts Committee, I put on record that in addition to the recommendation in this report that the New South Wales Government considers and responds to the recommendations made in the report, the committee also included finding 1:

The Committee recognises the importance of the recommendations in the PBO 2023 Post-Election Report and will review the Government's response to and any implementation of the recommendations within 12 months of the tabling of this report.

My reason for putting this on record is that reports by the Parliamentary Budget Office of the last two elections—2019 and 2023—had made similar recommendations around considering whether it is the right approach to establish the Parliamentary Budget Office then disband it, and then establish it and disband it again between parliamentary terms and elections. In particular, I point to page 37 of the Parliamentary Budget Office report, which talks about an updated mandate for involving conditions; and page 41, which mentions the role of a permanent Parliamentary Budget Office and the alternatives.

I make those comments because the government of the day does not consider the Parliamentary Budget Office process to be its highest priority. I recognise that the Government has an agenda to deliver, but the Public Accounts Committee and we as parliamentarians have a role to play. We must ensure that the Parliamentary Budget Office is fit for purpose and is delivering for our democracy outside of a specific government or election process. I hope the committee will take the time to look in more detail at the Government's response to see whether it can use the fact that we have a more diverse representation in Parliament than ever before and steer a way forward to look at an expanded remit for the role of the Parliamentary Budget Office.

I also note for the record that Federal Treasury has just started implementing its Measuring What Matters framework. The first national wellbeing measures that will be undertaken by Treasury will look not just at the cost in terms of the bottom line of a budget but also the impact on society and the more integrated challenges around how we see that budgeting and costings are done in this State. The New South Wales Parliamentary Budget Office and the Public Accounts Committee could play that role to look at what they could be doing better to address the various matter that take into account what a measure, policy or announcement will cost or the cost of not acting a certain way. At the moment we are restrained by the fact that the Parliamentary Budget Office has the limitation of being created and then disbanded which hinders its ability to consider the complexity of those matters throughout the political cycle. I support the report that has been brought to Parliament today. I look forward to further discussions and debates, both in the Public Accounts Committee and also in this Chamber, about how we can progress with a better approach that ensures that the State's budget reflects the needs of our communities.


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