Senate debates

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Questions without Notice

Indigenous Affairs

2:01 pm

Photo of Nigel ScullionNigel Scullion (NT, Country Liberal Party, Minister for Indigenous Affairs) Share this | Hansard source

I thank the senator for the question. The audit report is of course referring to the process of evaluation when somebody actually puts in an application for funds and how that is evaluated in terms of what actually happens on the ground. The audit report also indicated that they were not sure about how all this additional information appears. I went yesterday some way to explaining the new network that we had on the ground. We move people from the cities into the regions to assist with the evaluation of those programs.

This is a program that was absolutely essential. It was essential because when we got to the treasury bench, when we opened up the Indigenous Affairs desk, we said, 'Where is the plan?' It was as we had suspected, because we had asked in estimates time and time again for a single line item that said: 'This is what we are trying to do and this is the money.' I thought there was some mischief. Time and time again, the government of the day, the Labor Party, refused. They refused.

So when I got to government I said, 'Where is the plan, and how do we actually invest our funds?' There were none. There were 150 different programs, and that is why we had to bring in the IAS. The IAS was something that, instead of the government telling people what programs it wanted, invited communities to apply. We invited communities and individuals and families to apply on the basis of their needs, not on government needs. Yes, I acknowledge it was a fundamental change, and I stand by it. It was an absolutely essential change, because when we got there no plan existed.


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