Page 5137 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 18 November 2009

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This bill also introduces a requirement for a mid-year budget review, to be presented to the Assembly 45 days after the end of the calendar year. This review will provide … updated budget estimates to take account of any changed circumstances since the preparation of the original budget … A review of the financial policy objectives and strategies statement will also be included in the mid-year report. The proposed timing will align presentation of this information … with the quarterly financial statements.

I need to emphasise two comments made by Mr Quinlan. First, the review is to be presented by 15 February each financial year. That is, there are 45 days after the end of the first six months in which analysis can be undertaken and a midyear report can be prepared. I note that the dates on which the majority of these reports were tabled occurred in the second week of February each year.

Second, Mr Quinlan said that the timing proposed would align the midyear review with the quarterly financial statements. This is the critical comment. Quarterly financial statements are exactly that. As defined in the Legislation Act, quarterly financial statements are prepared on a defined quarterly basis, the quarters beginning on 1 July, 1 October, 1 January and 1 April. And these statements are to be released, also, within 45 days of the end of each quarter.

As a result, as Mr Quinlan said, the intention of the proposed timing of the midyear review was to “align presentation of this information … with the quarterly financial statements”. That is a quite clear and unambiguous statement that is repeated in the explanatory statement: each midyear review shall cover the first six months of the relevant financial year—that is, the first two quarters—and the report shall be available by 15 February. Unfortunately, while the intention of the then Treasurer was quite clear, the provisions in the bill he introduced did not provide a precise specification of these requirements. My bill completes this requirement.

I should note the position of various other jurisdictions in Australia on this matter. I have already made mention of two states. In Victoria there is a requirement for each midyear report to present fairly the financial position of the state at midnight on 31 December. In Tasmania there is a requirement for the Treasurer to publish a half-yearly report for the six months ended the previous 31 December. Other states either have no such reporting requirements or require a report to be prepared by 31 December each year. Again, in these instances a requirement for a midyear report by 31 December calls into question the very notion of half-yearly reports.

A midyear review is a valuable document. This report on the performance of the economy and of any changes to estimates and projections is both a sound discipline placed on the government of the day and a means for telling the community how their local economy has travelled. Of course, the requirement for a midyear review or any other review does not preclude the preparation and release of other reviews or documents which may have been prepared because of the emergence of significant and exceptional events being experienced. I commend the bill to the house.

Debate (on motion by Ms Gallagher) adjourned to the next sitting.

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