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Fiscal Responsibility and Australian Commonwealth, State and Territory Government Budgets

Graeme Wines ()
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Graeme Wines: Deakin University, http://www.deakin.edu.au/buslaw/aef/staff/profiles/winesg.php

No 2006_04, Accounting, Finance, Financial Planning and Insurance Series from Deakin University, Faculty of Business and Law, School of Accounting, Economics and Finance

Abstract: The government sector in Australia has seen the introduction of accrual accounting principles in recent years. However, this process has been complicated by the presence of two alternative financial reporting frameworks in the form of a) the Government Finance Statistics (GFS) uniform framework and b) the accrual accounting rules specified in Australian professional accounting standards, principally AAS 31. While a variety of cash and accrual based measurements are available pursuant to these frameworks, there has been no prescription of the manner in which the alternative measures should be presented. This paper presents the findings from a case study of the 2005-06 annual budgets prepared by the Australian Commonwealth government and the governments of the six Australian States and the two Australian Territories. The study examined the headlined financial outcome (general government sector budget surplus or deficit) announced in the budget papers of the nine governments. Findings indicate the adoption of varying measurement bases and a consequent lack of inter-government comparability. A number of variations to the measurements prescribed in the accounting frameworks were also observed. The paper analyses these government budget surplus and deficit numbers in the context of fiscal responsibility, the Commonwealth government’s Charter of Budget Honesty and the AASB’s current GAAP/GFS Convergence project.

Keywords: Government budgets; Fiscal responsibility; Public sector accounting; Government Finance Statistics framework; GAAP/GFS convergence; Government surplus/deficit announcements (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2006-09-09
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