Ms O'CONNOR question to TREASURER, Mr FERGUSON
In July and August of 2021 you were Minister for Finance. We are hoping you can shed some light on the Bracknell Hall situation. Through months of investigative work, we have managed to get a clear picture of Mr Shelton's conduct in this matter but there are still some things we do not know. Documents show Mr Shelton received a funding request from Meander Valley Council on 15 July 2021 and that the Department of Communities Tasmania was told they had to fund this project a month later. That must be a record turnaround time for a grant of this size.
What happened in that period between the request and the funding approval? The Premier just now confirmed the member for Lyons engaged with his predecessor to secure funding. Can you explain exactly what happened inside Government across that month to arrange for $400 000 to go from the Public Account to Bracknell Hall, outside of all proper process?
Mr Speaker, I thank the member for her question. I will, in substance, refer her to the answer already provided by the Premier. I will not be adding to it. However, since you referenced my role as Minister for Finance, I will inform you and the House that in that function my executive responsibilities were around taxation, superannuation and gaming. I was not the Treasurer. Those are decisions that are taken in the way that has been outlined by the Premier already, so I will not be adding any substance. I will make a point -
Ms O'Connor - It was $400 000 out of the Public Account and you're not prepared to give any answer.
Mr SPEAKER - Order.
Mr FERGUSON - Everybody in this House knows that Ms O'Connor is squarely going after regional communities. She has built her career out of damaging and destroying the economic lifeblood and the social life and fabric of small regional communities around Tasmania. That is exactly what is happening here today.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker, under standing order 45, relevance. The question related to - and it is a question that is specific to the Treasurer's portfolio responsibilities - how $400 000 could be taken out of the Public Account without any proper process, and we are defending other regional communities in Lyons.
Mr SPEAKER - The Treasurer has the call.
Mr FERGUSON - Mr Speaker, I will now add to my answer because Ms O'Connor has just walked right into it again. In her zeal to damage and destroy small and regional communities around Tasmania, she will target Bracknell. We know that she will target Sassafras. We know that the record shows she targeted Edith Creek, and in my electorate, Ringarooma and right around the state. The Greens are against regional communities and when they destroy industries, when they did their dirty deal with the Labor Party and brought the forest industry to its knees - that is Ms O'Connor's career.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order again, Mr Speaker, under standing order 45, relevance. This is about public trust, accountability, transparency and how $400 000 can be taken out of the Public Account with no proper process. I ask you to refer Mr Ferguson to the question.
Mr SPEAKER - The Standing Orders relating to relevance I will convey to the Treasurer. It is not an opportunity to expand the question at all. Treasurer, relevance to the question, please.
Mr FERGUSON - Mr Speaker, I respect your ruling totally, but if you will permit me to simply reflect that Ms O'Connor has no right to claim that money was taken from the Public Account that had not already been appropriated by the parliament for the use of, for example, the Treasurer's Reserve, or as the case may be, in this case. What is really happening is Ms O'Connor is trying to get a scalp. We fully expect in about 30 minutes maybe a stunt motion as well. Ms O'Connor, we would not put it past you. In fact, we are fully expecting it. Oh, and we will expect the Labor Party to join in.
Ms O'Connor - You people never saw a trough you didn't want to stick your snouts into, did you?
Mr SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, order.
Mr FERGUSON - We will expect that Ms White will not be able to resist the temptation
Mr SPEAKER - Treasurer, through the Chair, please.
Mr FERGUSON - Mr Speaker, the record is clear. We are supporting projects right around Tasmania, including, as the Premier has just made clear, a very important decision that was just made in relation to George Town. Members for Bass and Mr Duigan, the member for Windermere, have strongly advocated for the state to help out with the funding shortfall at the George Town Health and Wellbeing Hub and that will be appropriated in a proper fashion as well.
What is actually happening here is nasty politics. We will not have any of it, but we will build our regional communities. That is what the Liberal Party does.