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The establishment of a Commission of Audit has been a routine measure for newly elected conservative governments since the election of the Kennett government in Victoria in 1992. Most notably, Peter Costello, Treasurer in the incoming Howard government, appointed a commission headed by Professor Robert Officer, a leading free-market economist. The primary stated task of these Commissions, as implied by the name, is to review the current and forecast condition of public finances and to make recommendations for improvement. In reality, however, the primary function has been to justify cuts in public expenditure and other policy changes. In most cases, these policy changes have not formed part of the platform on which the newly elected government campaigned and, in many cases, they represent a direct repudiation of election promises.


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