Monday, 10 February 2020
Questions without Notice
Female Facilities and Water Safety Stream
My question is to the Minister for Youth and Sport, Senator Colbeck. I refer to an answer to questions on notice returned 18 December 2019 regarding the $150 million female facilities program which asked: which minister currently has the authority to approve projects for funding from this pool? The answer returned by the Department of Health stated, 'Minister Colbeck in consultation with the Prime Minister.' What consultation has occurred between the minister and the Prime Minister, or their offices, regarding this $150 million election slush fund?
The answer provided to that question on notice is absolutely correct. Any further allocations that come out of that program will be done as a matter of consultation between myself and the Prime Minister. At this point in time, the only funding allocated is that which was publicly released to the media on Friday. My department is effectively managing the administration of the grants that were made under the program to date. There is no further granting or approval of projects at this point in time. The process is in the phase of management of existing grants.
Further answers to questions on notice reveal that the authority to grant approvals under this program transferred to the minister in August 2019. How many projects were approved prior to the minister for sport receiving this authority?
As I said earlier in question time, the projects that are being funded through this program were election commitments. The government made election commitments in the lead-up to the election, in exactly the same way that the opposition did. In fact, the opposition promised many of the same projects.
Quite right. That's a good way to describe it. I'm listening very carefully to the minister's answer. In being directly relevant, my view is that he is entitled to talk about grants made and timing. I don't view discussion of alternative policies to be directly relevant to such a specific question. Senator Cormann, I will take your submission on the point of order.
On the point of order, I would just point out how the minister has been directly relevant. He was asked about the projects that had been approved. The minister clearly spelled out that the projects under this program—those that were publicly announced prior to the election—were election commitments.
That's exactly where I was going, on the basis: being asked about a number I consider to be asking the chair to instruct the minister on how to answer the question. He is being directly relevant, as long as the answer pertains to what I believe he was talking about at that point, which was the grants made prior to the time stated in the question.
All of the projects that are being funded under this program were the subject of election commitments. Senator Wong is right in her chatter across the chamber. There were 41 projects allocated funding through election commitments that are now being administered under this program.
This program is administering the delivery of election commitments that were made during the election campaign before I became minister. The role that my department has at this point in time is to administer the election commitments that were made by the government in the lead-up to the election.