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Election Commitments - Funding

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 23 November 2022

Tags: Pork-Barrelling


Yesterday you attempted to defend the Government you are a part of's misuse of the Treasurer's Reserve to fund more than 100 election commitments. You suggested this was standard operating procedure and, laughably, defended the process as transparent. The evidence suggests the Treasurer's Reserve was not even the newly formed Government's first preference for funding election promises. If you are genuinely committed to transparency will you have the courage to give a straight 'yes' or 'no' answer to this question, perhaps with a bit of detail.

Did the Liberal Government attempt to use the COVID-19 provision to fund election commitments in 2021?



Mr Speaker, I thank the member for her question. I do not know the answer to the particular question about whether the former Treasurer and the Government attempted to 'to use the COVID-19 provision'.

Ms O'Connor - You are the Finance minister.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Mr FERGUSON - I am aware that it is referenced in the RTI that was released last week. I will need to consult that further and, in the event, I might come back to the House and provide that further detail.

The short answer though is that we funded those commitments, as I said yesterday, through the Treasurer's Reserve, under section 21 of the Financial Management Act where it is an entirely appropriate and lawful thing to do to use funds that were appropriated by this House in the 2020-21 Budget. A provision was made for the Treasurer's Reserve by this parliament and it was carried. It provides for other purposes and it provides for that fund to be used. The facts are entirely clear.

We have already spent a lot of time on this matter yesterday and again today making very clear that everything proper has been followed and we stand by it. As for the false claims that continue to be made by those opposite, it demonstrates that they are desperate to try to create a scandal which does not exist.

Ms O'Connor - Will you come back with an answer to the question?

Mr SPEAKER - Order, member for Clark.

Mr FERGUSON - Finally, in respect of the COVID 19 provision, I am quite comfortable indicating to the House I will take further advice on that, but if -

Dr Woodruff - Would you come back in?

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Mr FERGUSON - I am quite comfortable coming back in here, Mr Speaker.

Dr Woodruff - This year?

Mr FERGUSON - The COVID 19 provision was there for a purpose and purposes can change. They can change.


Opposition members interjecting.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Mr FERGUSON - Mr Speaker, they are very touchy on the other side. I am not making any commitment on the use of those funds, but if the fund was not required it returns to the Public Account. It is not there to be spent in all circumstances. It was a provision that was included in the Budget. It is located in the same place as the Treasurer's Reserve in Finance-General, and if the fund is not required, it returns to the Public Account. That is the nature of the way Finance-General works.

In conclusion, the election commitments were funded out of the Treasurer's Reserve and we have been very clear about that. If I have more to say about that to provide detail, I am happy to come back to the House, either after question time or during the day.

Ms O'Connor - Well, you have not given an answer.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.