Tuesday, 2 August 2022
Questions without Notice
Building Better Regions Fund
My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government. As the government considers its approach to grants programs, what lessons can be learned from the recent Australian National Audit Office report into the Building Better Regions Fund?
As we as a parliament contemplate the legacy of a trillion dollars of debt that has been left to us by those opposite, and we contemplate how we manage that as an economy, it is very enlightening to have a bit of an insight into the way in which the previous government decided to spend taxpayers' money. The Australian National Audit Office tabled an audit report last Thursday that is scathing of the way in which the previous government spent taxpayers' money. This is a decade of rorts that we saw from the previous government. Let's just have a look at what the Australian National Audit Office had to say. And what it actually had to say, members—particularly of the Liberal Party, I would point out—was that it wasn't just Labor seats that missed out because of the way in which largely the National Party were benefited; it actually was Liberal Party seats. Many of the regional seats held by the Liberal Party members opposite missed out on meritorious projects because of the way the National Party administered this program.
which made up almost all of the billion-dollar program were not the ones that were deemed by the department as the most meritorious. In fact, in round 5, as some media reports will tell you, you were more likely to get funded if you had a low score than if you had a high score.
Resume your seat. There is no point of order. You do not start a point of order like that. The minister is in order and I give her the call. I warn the House: points of order during questions will not be tolerated if they are to be disruptive.
They're a little sensitive over on that side of the House about the way in which they administered this program. As I said, 65 per cent of projects—
Opposition members interjecting—
Mr Speaker, could I ask that you ask the Leader of the Opposition to withdraw that comment, please.
What the audit found was that it is more likely that your project would be funded if you had a low score than if you had a high score. That is the legacy of the previous government when it comes to these programs. Not only did the Audit Office find that there was a lack of transparency; what they increasingly did was that they ignored the Commonwealth grants guidelines and then changed the way in which they operated. By the fifth round of this program, what we saw was that the previous government actually requested that the department didn't give them any recommendations so that they didn't have to report when they counteracted the department of infrastructure. That's what we saw. There isn't a National Party member who wouldn't like to get their hands on a dollar for their seat at the expense of— (Time expired).