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Accrual Financial Reporting In the Australian Public Sector: An Economic Perspective


  • Marc Robinson


Australian governments have recently moved from cash accounting to accrual accounting. This paper discusses a number of issues pertaining to key accrual fiscal measures. Governments have adopted Australian Accounting Standard 31 as their principle accounting framework, relegating the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ alternative GFS accrual framework to a secondary role. AAS and GFS differ in key respects in the derivation of the operating result. This paper suggests that the ABS framework is superior, and should have been adopted by government. Rather than welcoming the shift to accrual accounting as a good opportunity to shift the focus of medium-term fiscal policy away a narrow preoccupation with ‘cash’ balanced budgets and debt, governments have chosen to maintain policy continuity. This has led them to define new ‘headline’ fiscal measures which are either identical, or quite close, to the cash budget balance. This Commonwealth’s new ‘fiscal balance’ headline measure is discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Marc Robinson, 1999. "Accrual Financial Reporting In the Australian Public Sector: An Economic Perspective," School of Economics and Finance Discussion Papers and Working Papers Series 065, School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology.
  • Handle: RePEc:qut:dpaper:065

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Marc Robinson, 1998. "Measuring compliance with the Golden Rule," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 19(4), pages 447-462, November.
    2. Willem H. Buiter, 1990. "Principles of Budgetary and Financial Policy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262524139, January.
    3. Alan J. Auerbach & Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1994. "Generational Accounting: A Meaningful Way to Evaluate Fiscal Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 73-94, Winter.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kathleen Goffey & Andrew Worthington, 2002. "Motor Vehicle Usage Patterns in Australia: A Comparative Analysis of Driver, Vehicle & Purpose Characteristics for Household & Freight Travel," School of Economics and Finance Discussion Papers and Working Papers Series 117, School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology.

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