Australia in the late 1990 adopted a purchaser-provider model of performance budgeting – so-called “accrual output budgeting” – which attracted considerable international interest. By 2003, however, the system was in headlong retreat. This paper examines the key difficulties experienced by this system, and links these to the system changes now being made. It speculates on the possible future of performance budgeting in Australia. It draws on extensive interviews and examination of budgetary process documentation in a number of Australian jurisdictions.