Labor's plan to rethink Finance department: 5 key changes

By The Mandarin

November 20, 2017

Is there more to Finance than just spending restraint? Federal Labor’s shadow finance spokesperson Dr Jim Chalmers proposed a few ideas in an address to the Crawford School of Public Policy last week, including a more sophisticated approach to co-investment as a guiding principle.

Chalmers outlines Labor’s plan in five parts:

  1. New fiscal rules which ensure budget decisions are formally based on the values that guide us, and “doesn’t ask the most vulnerable Australians to carry the heaviest burden.”
  2. Improve transparency of budget decisions, enhancing scrutiny around the 10-year impact of policy decisions, re-introducing cameos to better understand the distributional impacts of key policies, and greater use of data in decision-making and assessment.
  3. Public service reform: removing arbitrary caps on staffing levels and over-reliance on contractors and consultants, reviewing IT duplication and travel overspend in an age of video conferencing. Also looking at the supply side: “We need ministers and a Cabinet who actively seek policy advice from the public service, encouraging investment in policy capacity and rebuilding skills wasted by years of cuts and top-down policy diktats.”
  4. Review procurement rules, including around SME and local business involvement in large projects.
  5. Re-write the rules for Government Business Enterprises to make them more transparent. “We saw what happened when Australia Post salaries were first hidden, then botched in their release, and we are determined not to let that happen again.”


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