Briefing paper

Not for publication: declining transparency in the federal budget

Transparency Budget Federal government Government accountability Australia

Budgets are a key part of Australia's democratic system, with budget papers giving the public a valuable opportunity to see how much money is spent and on what. Some items in federal budgets are not made public, however, and are marked ‘not for publication’ or 'nfp.'

Often, items claimed as 'nfp' are still being negotiated, considered commercially sensitive, or relate to national security. While there may be circumstances where non-publication of budget information is justified, in the interests of transparency these instances should be kept to a minimum. Instead, they have become more common in recent years.

While there may be legitimate reasons for keeping some budget measures confidential, the overall trend for items not for publication in the budget is increasing. Various examples suggest transparency is being reduced as a result of the increasingly frequent use of not for publication items in the budget papers.


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