Following assent of the Parliamentary Budget Officer Act 2017 (Vic) (the Act) in June 2017, the state’s first Parliamentary Budget Officer (the Officer), Mr Anthony Close, was appointed on 23 April 2018 as an independent officer of parliament. The Officer’s responsibilities are to:
- provide independent policy costing and advisory services for members of parliament
- inform policy development and public debate in parliament and the Victorian community
The Act affords the Officer complete discretion in performing and exercising duties, functions and powers of the office.
The Act requires the Officer to prepare and publicly release a report of PBO operations for each election costing period. The report is to be submitted to the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee before the latter of three months after the date of the general election or the first day on which a member of the parliamentary committee is elected chairperson.
This document meets the requirements of the Act to produce a report of PBO operations. It provides transparency to the parliament and the community about the activities of the PBO during the election costing period. It includes information about services provided, significant issues and problems encountered, recommendations for future operations, and other information that the Officer considers appropriate. Section 27 of the Act contains detailed reporting requirements and Appendix A — Legislative reporting requirements acquits the completeness of this report to these requirements. Throughout this report, references to specific sections of the Act are made where relevant.
For the 2018 Victorian general election, the election costing period—as defined in section 3(1) of the Act—was from 1 May 2018 to 22 November 2018. During the election costing period, the Officer was required to give priority to election policy costing requests submitted by parliamentary leaders.