Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Small puzzles in the Abbott Government 2015-16 Budget Papers

Budget Measures Budget Paper No. 2 contains a number of small puzzles:

* Treasury estimates it will be raising $1.18 billion between 12 May 2015 and 30 June 2019 from decisions taken but not yet announced. Apparently we can all look forward to budgetary surprises scattered like rose petals across our path during the next four years.

* The nature of the Combatting [sic] multinational tax avoidance — stronger penalties measures is such that a reliable estimate cannot be provided so there are no figures given for any financial year. However, the Abbott Government expects an unquantifiable gain to revenue over the forward estimates period from companies with global revenues of more than $1 billion. It has this expectation even though there is no proposal to make unlawful the billion dollar tax avoidance schemes currently used by large multinationals such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto.

* Removing access to the government paid parental leave scheme for pregnant women if their employer has a parental leave scheme is listed as an “expense” to the Australian Government of $1.67 billion between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2019 and will only achieve “savings” of an est. $967.7 million over the same period. Perhaps a reader can explain that one.

* The Australian Consensus — establishment is listed as an expense but no figure is attached for any financial year. Despite the fact that $4 million over four years commencing in 2014-15 (announced as a grant to the University of Western Australia in April 2015 which it quickly returned to federal government coffers) is mentioned in the text, as is the government commitment to go forward with establishing this centre. Because this budget item was not included in the previous 2014-15 budget and is merely a title in this year’s budget it is a rather a strange little orphan whose inheritance is probably stuffed under the education minister’s mattress.

* Government expenses relating to Managing Biosecurity Risks — expanded surveillance and offshore audit are nfp (not for publication). Apparently cost estimates associated with this scheme are too sensitive for voters’ eyes while government is allegedly still in ongoing consultation with industry.

* Cost of the Home Insulation Program Industry Payment Scheme — establishment is nfp. It would appear that the transparent, equitable and evidence-based process for the assessment of business losses and the making of payments to over 200 businesses promised by the Abbott Government doesn’t extend to providing a budget estimate of the total cost of this scheme which was announced in December 2014 and was to be completed by mid-2015.

* One-off Government Response to the Home Insulation Program Royal Commission — act of grace payments made in 2014-15 are nfp. Again, the total cost is not for voters’ eyes and this item brings the total number of not for publication items to around nine.

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