The Queensland government says it will be a challenge to publicly release its financial statements before polling day during election years.
Queensland Auditor-General Brendan Worrall has told the government to do so after it waited until after last year’s October 31 election to open the books.
Treasurer Cameron Dick is mulling the recommendation in the auditor-general’s report, released on Thursday, but he hasn’t committed to it yet.
“The recommendation poses some challenges on reporting timeframes, particularly in an election year, but the government is committed to working to determine whether those timeframes can be met,” his spokesman told AAP.
Under state laws, the government only has to file financial statements within six months of the end of the financial year.
Mr Worrall said on Thursday that that rule was unsuited to election years when polling day is October 31.
“Information in the financial statements becomes less relevant to readers the further away it is from the end of the financial year,” Mr Worrall wrote.
“In 2020, it also meant information on the Queensland government’s financial performance and position was not publicly available prior to the state election.”
Opposition treasury spokesman David Janetzki said while 2020 was an extraordinary year, that was no excuse for failing to release the financial statements before the end of October like other states had.
He said given the precarious state of the budget and the “paper thin” economy, voters deserved transparency.
“It’s a question of integrity – Queenslanders should not be blindfolded when they go to the ballot box,” Mr Janetzki said.
“They deserve to know the true picture of the state’s finances.”
The auditor-general also recommended the government change rules to require financial statements be prepared for each fund created under its Queensland Future Fund laws.
Mr Worrall suggested the government use NSW laws as a guide and include information on underlying investments in each fund.
Mr Dick’s office said the Queensland Future Fund will be audited as part of Treasury’s financial statements, and asset allocation will be reported in the Treasury’s annual report.