Ding! Round three of hearings for the Budget Estimates 2019-2020 inquiry is officially underway this week!
This is the first time that the Legislative Council has had three sets of hearings for a budget estimates inquiry. The significance? Well, prior to 2019, the Council would usually hold two rounds of hearings – in August/September for initial hearings and then October/November for supplementary hearings. This third round, known as further hearings, also reviews the budget after the Treasurer has handed it down. However, it is being held towards the end of the financial year and three months before the next budget is delivered.
The resolution establishing the Budget Estimates inquiry has also been amended by the House since the supplementary hearings. The committee can now make a determination on, not only who (ministers, parliamentary secretaries, statutory bodies and public servants) they want to call, but also when and for how long they are to appear, between 9.30 am and 8.30 pm, on a hearing date appointed by the House. So far, all ministers and two parliamentary secretaries have been invited and have accepted their invitations (click here to see the hearing schedules for more details). Several independent statutory bodies have also been invited to appear.
As usual, the Budget Estimates inquiry is all about scrutiny and seeking information about how our taxes have been spent. All hearings will be conducted in public. Any member of the Legislative Council, whether they participate in the hearings or the inquiry process or not, can ask the minister post-hearing written questions.
And it is worth noting that there is no provision for any additional Budget Estimates hearings after the further hearings – this financial year! While it might sound like the end, the initial round of the Budget Estimates inquiry for the next financial year will kick start about two months after the committees publish their reports by 30 June 2020.
For a daily update, check out our Budget Estimates page.