Federal Government operates as "political theatre"

A MASSIVE investigation into how the Federal Government operates is "political theatre", according to a prominent Queensland economist.

The University of Queensland's Professor John Quiggin fronted the Senate committee investigating the Commonwealth Government's Commission of Audit on Tuesday.

The Commission launched earlier this year was designed to comb through government operates in an effort to find savings and improve how it runs.

The Greens-led Senate committee was created to examine how the Commission of Audit was operating, and particularly focused on what consequences would come from its recommendations.

Professor Quiggin said these commissions had become a "routine feature" when a government changed from Labor to the Coalition.

After taking power in Queensland, the LNP under Premier Campbell Newman launched its own Commission of Audit, which recommended asset sales.

Prof Quiggin said if political fortunes favoured the government it would release findings immediately, if not, it would hold on to them for as long as possible.

"The objective is to provide apparently independent advice on policies that would not have been announced in the lead-up to elections," he said.

Prof Quiggin said the view that Australia was overwhelmed by debt has "largely been discredited".

"It is 90% of GDP where there would be a concern," he said.

"We are at 15%".

During the public hearing, the committee also heard from Treasury officials, the Minerals Council of Australia, Property Council and former Liberal leader Dr John Hewson.

The Commission of Audit ceased on March 31, but its findings are yet to be made public.

The Senate committee is to publish its final report by May 13.

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