Decipher: The Australian Federal Budget, Part 2

In part 1 of Decipher: The Australian Federal Budget, we discussed the lead-up to the presentation of the Australian Federal Budget. In part 2, we will discuss what happens afterwards.

Deconstruction and commentary

On the night of the Federal Budget, the news is dominated by analysis and commentary.

Various groups dissect the Budget documents, extract the government’s outlook and priorities, and attempt to predict the effect the new Budget will have on Australia.

This year, the Budget will be presented by the fictional Generally Pleasant Party‘s Treasurer, The Honourable Mr Moore-Monny MP. In his Budget speech, Mr Moore-Monny announces that cuts to the Australian Regulator of Niceness and Interpersonal Etiquette, or ARNIE, were necessary in order to fund the establishment of the Federal Manners Commission, or FMC.

Mr Moore-Monny announces that this shows the GPP’s commitment to following through on its promise to replace the ARNIE with the FMC.

The aged care service provider, Aged Carers R Us, puts out a media release. In it, they state that they made submissions to the Committee which led to the establishment of the FMC, and are therefore pleased to see the Government following through on their intention.

What happens to the Budget after it is presented?

1-Opposition-SpeechAfter the Budget has been presented, the Leader of the Opposition is, by convention, given a right of reply, wherein they will make a speech, stating their party’s position on the new Budget.

This reflects the fact that the Budget is essentially a bill (or a collection of bills) being passed in Parliament. The Treasurer’s Budget speech is an expanded second reading, and the Opposition Leader’s speech is the continuation of the debate, as seen in other Bill presentations.

(You can find out how legislation is usually passed in our earlier Decipher blog post on the subject.)

As with other bills and legislation, the Budget is debated in the House of Representatives. At the same time as the Treasurer gives his speech, however, a Minister representing the Treasurer in the Senate will give the speech there.

The Senators are given access to the Budget documents at the same time as the House of Representatives (the Budget documents themselves are available to the public), which allows them to concurrently conduct their own dissection and examination.

Estimates Hearings

4-Weather-RevenuologistsSenate Estimates Committee, and its job is to scrutinise every facet of the Budget, and to ensure the Cabinet is spending tax-payers’ money responsibly.

(You can find out how parliamentary committees work in our earlier Decipher blog post on the subject.)

The Senate Estimates Committee is made up of eight Senators, four of whom come from the governing party, three from the opposing party and one independent or minor party Senator.

After the Treasurer presents their Budget to the parliament, the Senate Estimates Committee will scrutinise the details within the report. They will look at each of the portfolios within the Budget, and analyse them.

In this case, for example, one section of the Budget outlines revenue and expenditure in the Department of Niceness.

3-Word-SquiggleThe Senate Estimates Committee thinks that the amount estimated to be required for the running of the Federal Manners Commission is more than is required.

About two weeks or so after the Budget has been presented, after the Senate Estimates Committee has scrutinised the Bill, Senate Estimates hearings are held.

This is when members of the Senate Estimates Committee can question higher ranking public servants and those responsible for specific departments about their policies and practices, as well as expected expenditure and revenue.

Often this can get quite a bit of media attention. In the line of questioning details can be revealed that were not previously publicly known.

In this case, for example, the prospective Head of the Federal Manners Commission, Mr Pobble, is questioned by the Senate Estimates Committee. He is asked to detail the types of incentives to be given out by the FMC as outlined in the Budget.

Mr Pobble reveals that some money allotted to the FMC is to be used for buying public playgrounds for townships with a particularly high “Niceness Per Capita” rating.

This hits the headlines.

The Budget is passed

2-Morning-Notice, the Budget bills are finally passed in the House of Representatives and then put to the Senate. In the case of the Budget, the Senate has already conducted its scrutiny and committee hearings at this point.

The Federal Budget will determine the amount the government can spend for the following financial year (July 1st – June 30th), and for the most part this cannot be changed without the use of additional bills.

There is another round of estimates in October or November, determining how revenue and expenditure are holding up to the Budget estimates approved earlier in the year, which will allow for changes in expenditure for the remaining half of the year.

Have you followed the Federal Budget through news outlets of your choice? Do you know how the Budget will change things for you in the coming financial year?

If you’re interested in the current Budget, you can visit the Treasury website, where the Budget is available for download every year. There is also a website specifically created for the Budget, where you can also find previous years’ documentation.

Follow the link to read our previous political Decipher blog post, Decipher: The Australian Federal Budget, Part 1

Written for Uniting for Change by Lachlan Macleod
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