House debates

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Statements by Members

Government Funding

1:41 pm

Photo of Andrew WilkieAndrew Wilkie (Denison, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

The community hates dodgy deals and quite rightly expects taxpayers' money to be spent wisely and transparently. No wonder we saw such outrage when the federal government handed over nearly half a million dollars to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation without a tender process. Sadly, in Tasmania we're no strangers to deals between government and business being done behind closed doors. That's why members in my community are understandably concerned about a $2.95 million grant from the federal government for a private development on the South Coast Track. The only information the government will release is a single paragraph on a website. Surely, when nearly $3 million of taxpayers' funds are involved, the federal government must be up-front about how the money was approved and exactly what it's for, regardless of the merits or otherwise of the proponent. Just as surely, any development in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area needs to be scrutinised extra carefully to ensure it would comply with stringent social and environmental criteria. The community can live with things they don't like if they're sure they've come about by a trustworthy process. The reef and Tasmanian tourism are obviously both important, so it's regrettable such dark clouds hang over the examples that I've mentioned here today.