House debates

Monday, 21 June 2021


Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2021-2022; Consideration in Detail

5:36 pm

Photo of Pat ConroyPat Conroy (Shortland, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for International Development and the Pacific) Share this | Hansard source

I withdraw. Before the 2019 federal election, he promised a $4 billion emergency response fund for natural disaster recovery and response initiatives. After the election, not a cent was spent from this fund during 2019-20, a year when thousands of Australians saw their homes and communities destroyed by bushfires. In January 2020, Prime Minister Morrison made another big announcement: a $2 billion National Bushfire Recovery Fund. Eighteen months later, less than one per cent of the bushfire recovery funding announced for primary producer support, telecommunications upgrades and native wildlife rehabilitation has been released by the Morrison government.

The third failure of this Prime Minister is that he treats taxpayer money like Liberal Party money. Under this government we have seen the systematic misuse of taxpayer funds for the Prime Minister's political benefit. The sports rorts scandal, where the Prime Minister's office used grants that were meant for community sport organisations to bankroll Liberal Party election campaigning. The Leppington Triangle deal, where the Morrison government paid nearly $30 million for land in Western Sydney that was valued at only $3 million. The rorting of the Safer Communities Fund, where the minister siphoned money that was meant to be used for community safety and directed it to projects designed to bolster support for the Liberal Party.

Such is this government's contempt for taxpayers' funds and their preparedness to use it for their own political games, that the minister the Prime Minister blamed for sports rorts, Senator McKenzie, looks set to be returned to cabinet post the demise of Deputy Prime Minister McCormack. Such is the punishment for someone found misappropriating government funds for political advantage: they spend a year on the sidelines and then they return to cabinet. That's actually a grave punishment compared to what happened to the cabinet minister responsible for rorting the Safer Communities Fund. This is a program where the proceeds of crime money—literally blood money—which are there to protect victims were used to advance marginal seat interests. What happened to Minister Dutton, the minister responsible for it? He gets promoted to defence minister. With this cavalier attitude towards taxpayers' funds it is little wonder that the government is budgeting for debt to hit $981 billion in 2025. Nearly $1 trillion in national debt with no lasting benefits to show for it.

My question to the assistant minister is: does the Prime Minister understand that his refusal to take responsibility, his broken promises and his misuse of taxpayers' funds are all making life harder for Australians struggling with the impacts of the pandemic and the recession?


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