Senate debates

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Auditor-General's Reports

Report No. 27 of 2011-12

4:51 pm

Photo of Ian MacdonaldIan Macdonald (Queensland, Liberal Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Northern and Remote Australia) Share this | Hansard source

I thank Senator Abetz for drawing the attention of senators to this Auditor-General's report, which identifies yet another scandalous waste of money by the Labor Party government supported by the Greens political party. I note Senator Abetz's comments and I see on page 145 the reference to the Byron Shire Council, one of the few councils in Australia that is controlled by the Greens political party. It is no surprise to me that that council got a considerable grant for their cycling project. Can I declare an interest. I also cycle here in Canberra, in my hometown of Ayr and in Townsville. I have a cycle in each of those places, which I try to ride every morning. But I can be assured that we will never have to worry about money being spent in my hometown of Ayr, because the Labor government has no interest whatsoever in rural and regional Australia. There is no way in the world that there will ever be any grants for cycleways in most parts of rural and regional Australia.

I am concerned about the Greens and the Labor Party and that the financial mismanagement we see highlighted again here in this Auditor-General's report will be repeated should the Labor Party again win government in Queensland. We know the Greens have entered into another unholy alliance with the Labor Party in Queensland, and I think Mr Katter's party as well will be helping the Labor Party to be returned to office in Queensland. Certainly the Greens have done some dirty deals for preferences, and, again, it is a pay-off for things like the wild rivers legislation, which the Labor Party introduced at the request of the Greens. The payoff was Greens preferences; in this case, Greens preferences in the electorate of Ashgrove.

In passing, I note that there are two Greens candidates in Queensland who will not be bullied by the head office of the Greens and have refused point-blank to distribute preferences in the Queensland state election. Whilst the candidate in the electorate of Townsville, Jenny Stirling, and I do not agree on much, I admire her principle in refusing to take orders from headquarters about the allocation of preferences to the Labor Party. Congratulations to her. That is a rarity, I might say. You have only to see the leader of the Greens political party in this chamber to know that those ideas of principle and honesty are never close at hand in this area.

I draw the Senate's attention to page 127 of the Auditor General's report. He says:

… the processes used to select the successful applications for bike paths component funding unnecessarily departed from the published program guidelines, particularly with respect to the decision not to limit funding to only those applications that had been assessed as meeting unemployment gateway criterion.

The Auditor-General goes on to clearly point out:

… the distribution of funding would have predominantly favoured projects in electorates held by the Australian Labor Party. Specifically:

    I think this report does indicate yet again that there is a preference indicated by the government going to electorates held by the Australian Labor Party.

    Could I also show, as part of Labor's mismanagement, for which Labor is renowned, that this was supposed to be a stimulus program. The global financial crisis was three or four years ago now. The stimulus was meant to create jobs then, but we find again that with the typical mismanagement of the Labor Party the money is still being dribbled out now, two or three years after the time that that stimulus program was supposed to create job creation. This confirms my concern for my state of Queensland. Labor and financial management just do not go together in the same breath. I keep reminding the Senate that Queensland—a very, very wealthy state, with its fabulous agricultural output and its very wealthy mines—has lost its triple-A credit rating under the Labor government in Queensland and, if the Greens, with their influence on the Labor Party, have their way, Queensland will go further into debt.

    I note with interest a funding proposal for an Australian anticoal movement put out by John Hepburn from Greenpeace Australia Pacific, from Bob Burton from a group called Coalswarm and from Sam Hardy from the Graeme Wood Foundation. We know all about Mr Graeme Wood. Mr Graeme Wood is the man who gave Australia's biggest political donation ever—$1.6 million—to the Australian Greens. There have been allegations made in this place—I would not make them, of course—that this was simply cash for comment.


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