Parliamentary Budget Office
The Parliamentary Budget Officer Act 2010 established, for the first time in Australia, an independent officer of parliament to cost election policies and proposals which political parties and independent members of parliament might submit during the run-up to a general election. The officer is also charged with providing parliamentarians with technical briefings on financial, fiscal and economic matters, and may cost proposals submitted outside election periods.
The creation of an independent officer is intended to overcome objections which had been expressed about previous arrangements under which NSW Treasury provided estimates of costs of election promises. The NSW parliamentary budget officer has counterparts in the USA and Canada, and an equivalent agency is being established in the United Kingdom. The Commonwealth parliament is also considering setting up a similar position.
In the period immediately prior to a general election, the parliamentary budget officer can receive requests for costing proposed policies and when those estimates have been undertaken he or she is required to publish them after the relevant political party or independent member announces them. The parliamentary budget officer can also correct any misrepresentation of his or her work. Shortly before the election, and after allowing political parties the opportunity to advise on the composition of their final list of proposals, the officer is required to publish this list of policies and their budget impact for the current financial year and the three following financial years.
Although legislation does not require political parties or independent members of parliament to provide their election policies for costing, the goal of the Parliamentary Budget Office is to try to ensure that all election promises are costed accurately and quickly so that NSW voters can exercise their voting responsibilities in an informed manner.
Outside of the election cycle, the office aims to ensure that members of parliament are accurately and promptly advised on the estimated costs of their proposals and on economic, financial and fiscal matters in which they have expressed an interest.
Link to Parliamentary Budget Officer Act 2010
Link to Budget Impact Statements for Election Policy Proposals
Link to Election Policy Costings
Link to PBO Technical Briefings
Link to proposed organisation chart
Links to legislation and budget offices in other jurisdictions