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Australian government budget balance numbers: the hybrid nature of public sector accrual accounting

Wines, Graeme and Scarborough, Helen 2015, Australian government budget balance numbers: the hybrid nature of public sector accrual accounting, Accounting research journal, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 120-142, doi: 10.1108/ARJ-01-2014-0001.

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Title Australian government budget balance numbers: the hybrid nature of public sector accrual accounting
Author(s) Wines, Graeme
Scarborough, HelenORCID iD for Scarborough, Helen orcid.org/0000-0002-0562-1987
Journal name Accounting research journal
Volume number 28
Issue number 2
Start page 120
End page 142
Total pages 23
Publisher Emerald Group Publishing
Place of publication Bingley, Eng.
Publication date 2015-09-07
ISSN 1030-9616
1839-5465
Keyword(s) AASB 1049
Budget balance numbers
General government sector
Government budget reporting
Surplus/deficit
Summary Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to analyse the nature and comparability of budget balance (surplus/deficit) numbers headlined by the Australian Commonwealth Government and the governments of the six Australian States and the two Australian Territories. It does this in the context of the transition to Australian accounting standard AASB 1049 Whole of Government and General Government Sector Financial Reporting. Design/methodology/approach - A case study research method is adopted, based on a content/documentary analysis of the headline budget balance numbers in the general government sector budget statements of each of the nine governments for the eight financial years from 2004-2005 to 2011-2012. Findings - Findings indicate some variation in the measurement bases adopted and a number of departures from the measurement bases prescribed in the reporting frameworks, including AASB 1049. Findings also reveal that none of the nine governments have headlined a full accrual based budget balance number since the implementation of AASB 1049 in 2008. Research limitations/implications - While the study focuses on the Australian general government sector environment, it has significant implications in highlighting the ambiguity in the government budget balance numbers presented and the monitoring and information asymmetry problems that can arise. Research findings have wider relevance internationally in highlighting issues arising with the public sector adoption of accrual accounting. Practical implications - The paper highlights the manner in which governments have been selective in the manner in which they present important budget aggregates. This has important practical and social implications, as the budget balance number is one of the most important measures used to evaluate a government's fiscal management and responsibility. Originality/value - The paper represents the first detailed examination of aspects of the effect of the transition to AASB 1049.
Language eng
DOI 10.1108/ARJ-01-2014-0001
Field of Research 150199 Accounting, Auditing and Accountability not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970115 Expanding Knowledge in Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2015, Emerald Publishing Group
Free to Read? Yes
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30077129

Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Open Access Collection
Department of Accounting
Department of Economics
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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.