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LABOR INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO BOOST TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN GOVERNMENT

December 02, 2019

SENATOR KATY GALLAGHER
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE PUBLIC SERVICE
SENATOR FOR THE AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY
  
LABOR INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO BOOST TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN GOVERNMENT
 

Labor has introduced a Bill into the Senate today that would see debt waivers and act of grace payments that currently are kept secret by the Government, reported publicly for the first time.
 
The Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Amendment (Waiver of Debt and Act of Grace Payment) Bill 2019 would increase transparency and accountability in government operations.
 
The Bill would:

  • make public the details of debt waivers and act of grace payments made by the federal government which are currently kept secret.
  • require the Department of Finance, in its Annual Report, to publish these details about debt waivers and act of grace payments.
  • not release any private information relating to recipients of the debt waivers or act of grace payments would be published.

Currently, the Finance Minister has the power to waive debts owed to the Commonwealth, meaning they are completely forgiven and cannot be recovered. 
 
The kinds of debts that are currently kept secret are debts owed to the Australian Tax Office or Centrelink.
 
The public should know how many debt waivers are being ticked off by the minister and how much those waivers are worth to the taxpayer.
 
At a time when we have a Government who operates behind closed doors and in secret wherever possible, Labor wants to pass this important Bill that would force the minister to have to report their discretionary decisions publicly.
 
Other jurisdictions, such as the Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia already publicly report details of these debts in some form. There is no reason why the Federal Government shouldn’t do the same.
 
MONDAY, 2 DECEMBER 2019

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