Tuesday, 25 February 2020
Questions without Notice
Community Sport Infrastructure Program
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Cormann. Evidence from the Australian National Audit Office to the select committee has revealed that the Prime Minister's office corresponded with former Minister McKenzie's office about the Community Sport Infrastructure program on dozens of occasions, with one email stating: 'These are the ones we think should be included in the list of approved projects.' Does the minister believe the actions of the Prime Minister's office, in directing the approval of projects for a political purpose, was appropriate?
I don't accept the characterisation that Senator Chisholm has put on it. The correspondence that has been released is entirely consistent with the statements the Prime Minister has made on a number of occasions now. Of course, the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister's office, like prime ministers in the past, have made representations on behalf of colleagues. Ultimately the decision-maker was Senator McKenzie. All of these things are long on the public record.
I think Senator Cash gave an outstanding answer on the Urban Congestion Fund yesterday. One of the things she made very clear was that the projects approved under the Urban Congestion Fund were decisions by government. Indeed, there was a whole series of election commitments that we took to the last election—at which we were successful. The Labor Party had already been measuring the curtains in the Lodge. They had already made all of the arrangements to take over government. But, of course, the Australian people had a better idea. The Australian people decided to endorse the plan that we took to the last election, including our plan to address urban congestion. These are decisions that went through the usual and proper processes of government.
If the senator has a specific question I'm happy to answer it. In relation to programs funded by the government, the usual decision-making processes apply. Again, if the senator has a specific question, I'm happy to assist him.