Monday, 10 February 2020
Questions without Notice
Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program
My question is to the Minister for Youth and Sport, Senator Colbeck. I refer to a media release by the Prime Minister dated 30 March 2019, which announced both the final round of funding for the government's corrupt sports rorts scheme together with an additional $150 million to support female facilities. The Prime Minister's media release states:
Further details on the change room and swimming facilities fund will be released later in 2019.
Minister, when were these further details released and to whom?
Again, as many of us have done here in the chamber over the last week, I completely reject the characterisation by the Labor Party of the CSIG program. It was a very, very good and, quite frankly, very, very popular program. In fact, the program was so popular that Labor Party members of parliament wrote letters of endorsement for projects in their electorates, seeking for their projects to be funded. So this was a very popular program. I completely and utterly reject the characterisation that's being made by the Labor Party. It was a very popular program.
It was so popular that not one member of the opposition has offered to send the money back for the projects that were announced in their electorates where the intervention of Senator McKenzie and her decision-making processes increased the proportion of grants in Labor electorates from 26 per cent to 34 per cent, which much more closely aligned them with the number of Labor seats in the parliament. So I reject completely the characterisation of this program that is consistently put by the Labor Party.
My point of order is on direct relevance, Mr President. I am conscious of previous rulings and the minister has now had over a minute. There was one question related to the release of guidelines as per the Prime Minister's commitment and I'd ask him to return to the question.
On the point of order, Senator Wong, I allowed you to restate that question at the end. I realise that, and you are entitled to do that. The minister has been speaking for over a minute. He is addressing part of the question. As we found out in the last question, very specific questions can get very specific answers. But the minister is entitled to challenge assertions made in a preamble to a question. You've emphasised that part of the question. Senator Colbeck to continue.
Thank you for your ruling, Mr President. As I've said, and I will repeat, the CSIG program was a very, very popular program, supported by members of parliament across both sides of the parliament. In fact, it was advocated for by members on both sides.
I cannot direct a minister to answer part of a question. A minister is entitled to address a contestable assertion made in the preamble. It is up to others to judge the merits of answers and questions; it's not up to the chair. The minister is entitled to continue by addressing all or part of the question. Senator Colbeck.
I will continue to assert that this very good and popular program. It was supported by members across all sides of the parliament and advocated for by members on the other side who sought funding under the program. As I've said and as the parliament—
Under standing orders, interjections are disorderly. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate constantly interjects even when her entire side is silent. I think you should call the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate to order.
Yes, I do have one. Has the minister received any advice from either Sport Australia or the Department of Health expressing concerns that no guidelines or further details were ever distributed despite the Prime Minister stating they would be?
Thanks for the question, Senator Farrell. Sport Australia has no engagement in the FFWSS program, so there's no need for any involvement at all. The Department of Health is utilising the guidelines for the implementation and delivery of the grants that are being made through the FFWSS program, using the CDG guidelines, as is our responsibility—the responsibility that I have under this program now, which is to deliver the grants that were the subject of election promises, just like the Labor Party made, I think, $250 million worth of election promises during the election. We are using, as part of the delivery mechanism for this program, the CDG guidelines, which relate very closely to guidelines that are used for the delivery of other election commitments.
I thank Senator Farrell for the question. Quite simply, just as the Labor Party did when they made $250 million worth of election commitments for sporting projects, the government made a number of election commitments and are delivering those election commitments through this program. It's quite simple.
Direct relevance: this relates to an announcement prior to the election. The only question that is being asked is: why is $150 million of taxpayers' money being allocated without guidelines? I'd ask the minister to return to the question.
I was listening very carefully. I'm quite happy to be corrected if I misheard. I thought the minister was turning to that very point at that time. I will ask him to continue. I am listening because it was a specific question—listening carefully.
Thank you for your ruling, Mr President. As I said, the government made a number of election commitments in the lead-up to the election in the same way that the Labor Party made a number of election commitments. In fact, the Labor Party more election commitments than we did. The Labor Party made $250 million worth of election promises for sporting facilities and women's change rooms. We made a smaller amount, and this program is being utilised to deliver on those election commitments. Just like we are, the Labor Party would have had to devise a program to deliver on their election commitments. Both sides of politics make election commitments—(Time expired)