Senator Bernardi: Empower Taxpayers With Transparency Portals

The Australian Taxpayers' Alliance is delighted to see that Senator Cory Bernardi has used the opportunity of his first question in Question Time as an independent Senator to criticise chronic overspending by the Commonwealth Government, and to call for the introduction of taxpayer transparency portals, a move long advocated by the Australian Taxpayers' Alliance.

These portals, which have been proven to cut waste, reduce corruption, and increase accountability have been successfully implemented throughout the world, and it is about time the Australian Government follows suit.

Senator Bernardi asked the following three questions today:

First Question
Mr President, my question is to the Minister for Finance: Due to the decisions taken by the so-called adults in this place, every Australian child has a $90,000 Commonwealth debt hanging over their head. That’s $500 billion in total, and it is not being repaid, it continues to grow every single day. Australian Conservatives stand ready on the crossbench to rein in that debt by reducing wasteful spending.

With very little to show for a decade of reckless government spending, it’s time to shine the cleansing light of transparency on how the government are using taxpayer funds. Will the Coalition set up a searchable payment portal, comprising real-time disclosure of all Commonwealth spending, so that taxpayers can see what they are getting for their children’s $90,000 debt?

Second Question
Governments go to great lengths to hide controversial spending, resulting in federal FOI requests surging by 60% over the last 5 years – about 38,000 last reporting year. The United States, British and many European governments run online, searchable spending disclosure gateways, enabling taxpayer and journalist scrutiny. These gateways have saved national budgets hundreds of millions of dollars. Why don’t we have searchable gateways so taxpayers can scrutinise spending?

Third Question
New Zealand has taken out the top spot in the last two Open Budget Index transparency rankings. Despite rating over one-hundred countries, Australia has never featured. I understand that the Prime Minister wrote to them on 24 November 2015 saying we would join. Why is it taking so long for this government to catch up with Trinidad and Tobago and Timor-Leste to be in the Open Budget Index rankings?

Senator Bernardi is completely correct in noting that the United States, British and many European governments run online, searchable spending disclosure gateways, enabling taxpayer and journalist scrutiny which have resulted in saving taxpayers millions of dollars, and it is about time Australia catches up with the rest of the world.

This is our money as taxpayers, and it is our right to know how it is being spent. 

Creating a centralised, accessible, easily-searchable transparency portal is a tried and tested best practice measure to empower taxpayers. Dozens of international jurisdictions have embraced these portals time and time again, and they have been proven to save money, cut waste, eliminate corruption and improve governance. Earlier this year, Senator Malcolm Roberts committed himself to promoting these portals, and we congratulate Senator Bernardi for doing the same.

You can read research undertaken by the ATA on transparency portals here: http://www.taxpayers.org.au/our_money_our_right_to_know

 

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