Australian Commonwealth, State and Territory Government Budgets and the Selective Announcement of Budget Surplus/Deficit Numbers
This paper presents the findings from a case study of the 2004-05 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 headline financial outcome (general government sector surplus or deficit) announced in the budget papers of each of the nine governments. Findings indicate the adoption of varying measurement bases and a consequent lack of comparability in the headlined budget outcome numbers. Accounting reforms have resulted in a variety of cash and accrual based measurements becoming available for presentation by governments. However, there has been no prescription of the manner in which these alternative measures are to be presented, resulting in a lack of consistency and comparability. It is not surprising in this reporting environment that different governments would choose to headline different budget outcome numbers in their budget announcements.
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