Australia's Budget vs the world

Luke Keioskie
Wed 21 Mar

Australia’s federal budget has been ranked 12th in the world for transparency, with Australia well ahead of the OECD average but still behind New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom.

As Australia prepares for the May 8 federal budget, the first Open Budget Survey of Australia has been compiled with the help of The Australian National University (ANU) Tax and Transfer Policy Institute (TTPI) at the Crawford School of Public Policy.

TTPI Fellow Professor Miranda Stewart said while Australia performed well out of the 115 countries in the survey, more could be done to improve budget transparency.

“Australia was a pioneer in budget reform and provides a good example of budget transparency,” Professor Stewart said.

“But Australia’s budget contains much less information than in the past about distributional effects of budget policy on taxes and welfare.

“The Australian budget also does not contain any analysis of the budget by gender. This is in contrast to the 1980s. The recent Canadian budget puts gender equality as a core part of the public budget analysis.”

The Open Budget Survey promotes the presentation of budget information in a full, clear and accessible way, and encourages public participation.

Australia scored 74 out of 100 for transparency, well above the global average of 42, but received a lower score of 41 out of 100 for public participation.

“The Government receives pre-budget submissions from organisations but it does not publicise this opportunity widely or go out and consult directly with communities about budget decisions,” Professor Stewart said.

“The Government does not release a pre-budget policy statement or permit a parliamentary debate about budget priorities. It keeps budget policy and decisions close to its chest.”