Senate debates

Monday, 9 August 2021

Matters of Public Importance

Prime Minister

4:44 pm

Photo of Nita GreenNita Green (Queensland, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

[by video link] I have been taken aback by some of the comments from government ministers and also government senators today during this MPI. It is clear that the government wants to do anything other than take responsibility for the rorting of programs, for bad administration. It shows a lack of responsibility but also a lack of respect for the Australian people and public funding. As we've seen, they have tried today to make personal attacks on the Auditor-General. We've also seen them making false comparisons between election commitments and the spending of public money. We've seen the Prime Minister and ministers refusing to answer questions about this latest car park rorts scandal. We've had ministers running away from press conferences before answering questions, and we've had the Prime Minister saying that Australians are the winners from his rorting behaviour. What we know is that this latest commuter car park scandal demonstrates that the government and the Prime Minister really couldn't care less about accountability and responsibility.

We know that the Auditor-General's report showed that 87 per cent of funded projects went to coalition held or targeted electorates. We know that none of the 47 project sites selected were proposed by the department. We know that a project selection process that included canvassing projects with Liberal MPs, duty senators and candidates was the way that the government actually selected these sites, and we know that 10 commuter car parks were not even attached to a train station. We know that at least one of the projects was ineligible for funding and that only two of the car parks have actually been completed. A $660 million taxpayer funded program to win inner-city Liberal targeted seats at the last election is what we have on our hands, and the Australian public knows this. They understand it and they are disappointed, and they are giving up on this government delivering anything other than slush funds, slogans and excuses.

The other thing that strikes me when it comes to this car park scandal, this latest scandal following on from sports rorts—and I'm sure it won't be the last one that we see—is the brazenness of the government's delivery of this project. We know that the ANAO report into administration of commuter car park projects said that the Prime Minister approved 27 urban car parks in one day and that that was eight days after the Commuter Car Park Fund was established in the budget. They established the program, and then eight days later the Prime Minister himself approved 27 urban car park projects in one day. That's great for those inner-city Liberal seats, but compare that to the funding that we're still waiting for in regional Queensland.

On 20 July 2019 the same minister, Minister Tudge, who is responsible for the commuter car park program, told people in Townsville that they had secured the Haughton pipeline funding—$195 million. That was 751 days ago. On 4 August 2020 the local member told Townsville that the Townsville City Deal money would be spent on local projects. That was 370 days ago. The Prime Minister was able to deliver these car park projects and sign off on these projects within eight days of the fund being established, but people in Townsville are still waiting for at least $145 million of funding to be announced as projects. They still don't know where that funding will go or which projects will get that funding, and not a single dollar of that money has been spent. When it comes to buying votes in Liberal inner-city seats the Prime Minister is quick to act, but when it comes to delivering on the promises that he has made to people in regional Queensland, people who gave him their votes, he's a lot slower to act.

This government is being found out as a government that is all about winning votes, delivering announcements but not actually delivering on accountability— (Time expired)


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