24 May 2020
Senator Rex Patrick has called on Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to immediately release Treasury JobKeeper modelling after the Government committed the biggest accounting error in Australia’s public administration history.
"Treasury modelling may well have caused Government to suffer from a bad case of confirmation bias," said Senator Patrick.
Senator Patrick pressed Treasury Secretary Dr Kennedy last Thursday for the modelling to be released to the Senate’s COVID-19 oversight committee. "I put to you that all the modelling your department does is done on the public coin and for public purpose, and the public has a right to see what it is that your department has done. I think it is disrespectful for the Treasury to withhold that information from the public."
"If there wasn’t enough reason last Thursday, there’s 60 billion more reasons now."
Dr Kennedy hinted a cabinet-in-confidence claim would be used. "I think most Australians are getting sick and tired of the Government sprinkling ‘Cabinet fairy dust’ on just about anything that might prove embarrassing to Government," said Senator Patrick.
In parallel to the ongoing Senate Committee’s processes to get access to the modelling data, I have requested it under Freedom of Information laws and, unusually, called in advance for the decision maker to evidence any cabinet-in-confidence claim (see FOI request here).
"But what should happen is the Treasurer should just release the modelling administratively, although I concede it would involve an uncharacteristic incident of openness and transparency from this Government."