BEREJIKLIAN GOVERNMENT TRYING TO HIDE FINANCIAL SITUATION BY ABOLISHING REPORTING REQUIREMENTS UNDER COVID
NSW Labor accused the NSW Treasurer of trying to hide the State’s true economic position by abolishing key financial reporting requirements including the half yearly review and the traditional monthly statements.
NSW Shadow Treasurer Walt Secord and Shadow Minister for Finance and Small Business Daniel Mookhey were referring to the COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures) Bill (No.2) 2020 – Omnibus Bill.
“They cited the proposed amendments to Government Sector Finance Act 2018 and the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983 (pages 12- 17).
The amendments were part of a series of moves to give the NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet unprecedented powers to delay the State budget; cancel the Half-yearly review; cancel monthly reporting statements and amend other important reporting dates.”
However, NSW Labor has conceded that the Berejiklian Government should be allowed some flexibility on the actual State Budget as it almost always followed the Federal Budget – so it would agree to the December extension.
“NSW Shadow Treasurer Walt Secord said “this is the latest example in a string of attempts by the Berejiklian Government to remove transparency and scrutiny.If a publicly-listed company or a major corporation tried to hide its state of its finances from their shareholders or board, there would be a thorough and proper investigation.”
“It is extraordinary that the Berejiklian Government would use the cloak of COVID to hide the State’s finances.
“We have been bipartisan at all times, but this is a bridge too far. The Berejiklian Government is asking for a blank cheque and no accountability to the community.”
Mr Mookhey said: “Clearly, the Berejiklian Government does not want the community to know the true state of the State’s finances.
The decision to hide financial statements comes at a time when the Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is revealing details in the Federal Parliament. This is in stark contrast.”
“The monthly statements will expose that the Berejiklian Government’s so-called assistance packages are cruel hoaxes and the programs are not being provided to those in need.”
Under Section 7 of the Government Sector Finance Act 2018, the NSW Treasurer is required to provide “budget time projections and year-to-date balances for the major general government sector aggregates disclosed in the Budget to be published for each month”.
Since the 1970s, NSW Treasury has been providing these monthly reports.
The most recent one appears at: https://www.treasury.nsw.
The March 2020 Monthly Statement shows that the NSW had a $320 million surplus – as of March 31.
Mr Secord said: “Before the COVID-19 crisis, NSW had slipped behind Victoria; we were once the engine-room of the Australian economy but we are now facing massive unemployment.”
Mr Secord and Mr Mookhey have twice written to the Treasurer reiterating their request for a formal economic “State-of-the-State” briefing from Treasury Secretary Michael Pratt AO on the NSW Government’s current financial situation.
They also called on Mr Perrottet to make an economic impact statement to the NSW Parliament on May 12 similar to the one planned by the Commonwealth Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on the same day.
A NSW Parliamentary statement should canvas the latest economic modelling and the State’s economic outlook, provide an update on the take-up rate of the State Government assistance package, and outline the Government’s post-COVID-19 recovery and rebuilding plans.
While Mr Perrottet has lined up business speeches outlining the state of the NSW economy, he is yet to commit to sharing that information with the NSW public or the NSW Parliament.
Mr Secord said he was willing to work in partnership with the Berejiklian Government to support any sensible moves to stimulate and support NSW businesses and jobs so we can get through the COVID-19 pandemic together, and re-build the economy to be better than it was on the other side.
Most recently, the international ratings agency S&P revise the outlook for NSW’s Triple A credit rating from stable to negative. On May 1, ANZ forecast operational deficits of $6 billion for the NSW budget over the coming years.
It is important to note that before the COVID-19 crisis, the NSW economy was in difficulty with more than $13.5 billion in cost blow-outs in infrastructure projects; a downgrade to budget projections; weak wage growth; and an unstable revenue base.