Wednesday, 6 September 2017
Questions without Notice
Deputy Leader of the Nationals
Government senators interjecting—
Yesterday, the Minister denied that her potential ineligibility as a senator had impacted her decision-making by claiming she was 'very recently with the member for Whitlam announcing $10 million for a road'. Given that the decision to fund this road was made almost 12 months ago, does the minister want to try again? Just name one funding decision made since questions about your eligibility as a senator were revealed.
If my recollection serves me correctly, I was talking in general at that point in time about the very good regional grants program that we have in this coalition government. I was simply pointing out the fact that I was with the member for Whitlam, Stephen Jones, talking about the $10 million road project in Fowlers Road, Dapto, which was very well received not only by the local member but by the people down there in the local community. It was relating to my broader conversation at the time around projects. As I have indicated to the chamber, I have made many decisions around projects. The advice that I have currently indicates that I will continue to do so and that those decisions will be very well considered and appropriate.
Mr President, on a point of order: the minister might have been about to get to it, but she was asked one question. She was asked to name one funding decision made since questions about her eligibility as a senator were revealed, not the 12-month-ago decision that she referred to yesterday.
She was asked two questions. The first one was: 'Does the minister want to try again?' That was the first question, and I think the minister was clearly answering that portion of the question. Minister, have you concluded your answer?
Applications for the $30 million in funding for the Bowen Basin under the Regional Jobs and Investment Package closed on 15 August. Can the minister assure applicants that a decision on applications will not be delayed or be put at risk as a result of her potential ineligibility?
The minister will soon decide on $20 million in grant funding in Cairns under the same fund, where applications also closed on 15 August. Why is the minister refusing to step aside from her portfolio responsibilities and remove the risk to support that many Queenslanders are relying on?
It does sound very similar to a number of other questions that have been asked of me, but I am happy to provide an answer. I will continue to make decisions in my capacity as Minister for Regional Development and, indeed, my other portfolios. I believe those decisions will be very well considered and appropriate. But can I now point out that this is the ninth question I've had since Monday morning on an issue that is not a priority for the Australian people. Again, the Labor Party has refused to take the opportunity to ask me a question about any of my portfolios or any of the portfolios of ministers that I represent about things that matter to the Australian people. I know from the conversations I've had that there are people who are incredibly disappointed that Labor is again showing their complete disregard for regional Australia.