Here's What The Head Of Treasury Thinks About Budget Leaks

Leaks are common in the lead up to each federal budget (Photo: Getty Images)

Before the federal budget is released each year several key measures are usually leaked to the media. It lets the government gauge the public reaction, break bad news gradually, and also get overall more airtime for the budget instead of just a shorter hit around budget time.

Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson discussed these leaks at a business lunch in Sydney today. He was asked when treasury was told about a multi-billion medical research fund, given it wasn’t discussed publicly in the weeks before the 2014 budget was released.

This year nearly every major decision was leaked including a budget repair levy, changes to petrol excise and a new $7 payment to visit a doctor. Parkinson said the premise of the question was “interesting” and went on to explain he’d rather total transparency, or secrecy in the lead up to budget night.

“What you’ve just said is the government is actually preparing its budget — why didn’t we know what the government was going to put in the budget before it was finished,” Parkinson said.

“It is true that you can pick up the Daily Telegraph and find out about all the design details of the temporary budget repair levy, but not all things in the budget necessarily get shared before budget day.

“In a sense it doesn’t really matter [when the government told treasury about the fund]. What you’re really saying is: why weren’t we [the public] told beforehand.

“My view is: I would much rather go to a situation where there was either total transparency, or nothing was released until budget day. But hey, I’m just old fashioned,”Parkinson said.

It is unlikely this would ever happen. But would be interesting from an investment perspective. Budgets hardly ever move markets because all the announcements are already priced in. If all the surprises came at once it could be a different story.

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