Today marks a new era of parliamentary scrutiny of the budget process, following the passage of legislation to establish a Parliamentary Budget Office.
The PBO will be an important new institution to improve the transparency of Australia's already strong fiscal and budgetary frameworks.
For the first time, all Members and Senators will have access to an independent and confidential costing service outside of a general election period. They will also be able to use a fully transparent policy costing service during election periods.
Transparency is fundamental to ensuring the public is fully informed about the costs of election promises before they cast their vote.
This new office will ensure the Australian community is better informed about the fiscal impacts of policy proposals, and will allow a more accurate and informed debate on economic policy in this country.
It reflects the unanimous recommendations of the Joint Select Committee into the Office, which Opposition MPs signed up to in March 2011.
Unfortunately the Opposition walked away from this bipartisan approach and has said it will avoid scrutiny by refusing to supply policy proposals to the Office for costing.
The Opposition must reconsider this position. No Opposition has needed the help of a PBO more than the current Opposition.
We know, from the express statements made by members of their own economic team, that the Opposition needs to make $70 billion in savage cuts to balance their books.
There are few issues more deserving of bipartisan support than those that enhance the transparency and accountability of our democracy. The Parliamentary Budget Office is an important institution that should be supported by all parties.
23 November 2011