You are here

Leave to Move a Motion without Notice - Motion Negatived

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 8 September 2022

Tags: Pork-Barrelling

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Speaker, let us be clear about this. The Greens brought this matter on because there has been a fundamental failure of openness and transparency from this minister and from this Government about taxpayers' money - large sums of taxpayer money in this particular instance of Bracknell Hall, $400 000.

On behalf of the Greens, I sat in Estimates scrutiny this year. I scrutinised this minister and what I heard was going around and around in circles, doing everything possible to put the blame back on members on the other side - asking the questions about why we had not read the Budget properly. We were pointed to the Budget where he said everything is announced in the Budget. Everything was announced at the election and everything is funded in the Budget.

Mr Speaker, that is not true. It is not true that everything was in the Budget because we have the evidence from this right to information that makes it very clear that there had to be a whole lot of post-Budget flurrying finding the money and getting the money as an additional fund, and approval processes for that purpose.

I will read through the time line of what happened.

On 3 April 2021, the Liberal Party established the Local Communities Facilities Fund. We know that now; that was not announced. This was a Liberal Party election strategy. On 1 May, there was the state election. On 20 August last year, Carol Jones from the Premier's office advised Communities Tasmania that Bracknell Hall replacement and three other projects totalling $1.4 million were meant to be funded through the Local Communities Facilities Fund but Communities Tasmania had not accounted for these projects in the Budget. They did not appear, as the minister told me at the time, in the Budget papers.

The minister, particularly, was slightly derisive about our questions on this matter. He said, 'Just look in the budget and you'll see it's all there'. What we know now is that $1.4 million of taxpayers' money was not in the Budget. On 26 August the Budget was handed down and the Bracknell project was not included in it but it was left in the Budget fact sheet for the Lyons electorate.

Mr Street - Yes, it was.

Dr WOODRUFF - No, it was not, Mr Street.

Mr Street - It was in the Budget.

Dr WOODRUFF - No, it was in the Lyons fact sheet for the electorate. It was not in the Budget.

On 23 September, Carol Jones from the Premier's office tells Communities Tasmania that the project did not make it into the Budget and must be funded through a request for additional funds. On 12 October the secretary of Communities Tasmania submitted a minute to then premier Gutwein requesting the approval of the necessary additional funds to support these projects, and that minute was called 'Request for Additional Funding - Local Communities Facilities Fund election commitment 2021'.

On 25 October a minute to the Minister for Sport and Recreation seeking funds for those four projects was approved and that minute was titled 'Request for Additional Funding - Local Communities Facilities Fund election commitment 2021'. The then minister for Sport and Recreation, Jane Howlett, on 26 October last year wrote to premier Gutwein to advise him that she had approved the request for additional funds for that Bracknell Hall money and others. On 1 February this year there was a minute to the deputy secretary of Community Sport and Recreation approving the grant deed for Bracknell Hall. The minute said:

During the 2021 state election, the Tasmanian Government committed funding of $400 000 for the replacement of old Bracknell Hall.

Ms O'Connor - An election commitment.

Dr WOODRUFF - An election commitment that was not announced during the election and was not funded, as this minister said to us as members of the Estimates committee in the 2021 Budget. It was not.

We are very concerned at the answers from this minister because he has said on a number of occasions that everything was announced and everything was funded in the 2021-22 Budget. It is not true.

We have always supported the need for people to be able to talk about their wishes for the people in the community they represent. However, this is about a non-merit-based pork-barrelling expenditure of public money. That is what it is about, with obvious conflicts of interest when you have members of parliament and their family sitting on a committee that is receiving not once, not twice but at least three times, public money to flourish that little community at the expense of the consideration of whether that money should be going to all the other sporting clubs in Tasmania.

That is fundamentally the problem here. It is a particular focus on MPs who want to get re elected, their local communities and their local interest. That is what stinks and what also stinks is that this Government is continuing to pretend it is all okay. The people of Tasmania are calling for an open and transparent process about how their money is spent. It is not that money should not be spent.

We have to have a process of dealing with conflicts of interest, that is why it should be open and transparent, but this Government fundamentally does not see a problem with making personal decisions about taxpayers' money. They actually do not see a problem with that and that is where the problem lies. We are not going to stop until we get to the bottom of this because it is a disgrace and it has to stop happening. When it keeps happening, it is not only an unfair expenditure of public money, it rots our democracy. It sets a standard as though this is normal and okay and that is the path to ruin. This minister has to tell us why he appears to have misled the House on a number of occasions.