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Leave to Move a Motion without Notice - Motion Negatived


Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 8 September 2022

Tags: Pork-Barrelling

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, I seek leave to move a motion without notice for the purpose of moving the suspension of standing orders to debate the following motion -

That the House notes the Minister for Sport and Recreation appears to have misled the House this morning and calls on the minister to clarify funding arrangements for the Bracknell Hall upgrade and explain his contradictory statements on the matter.

Mr Speaker, we want to get to the bottom of funding for the Bracknell Hall. We have the minister this morning -

Mr SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, do you have a copy of the motion to be circulated, please?

Ms O'CONNOR - I do and it will be distributed by Dr Woodruff.

We have the minister this morning trying to claim that $400 000 of taxpayers' money allocated to the Bracknell Hall was not an election commitment. We have here a minute to the deputy secretary of Communities, Sport and Recreation that says: 'Grant deed, Meander Valley Council, replacement of the old Bracknell Hall, 2021 election commitment', and the first recommendation is:

Note that during the 2021 state election, the Tasmanian Government committed funding of $400 000 to the Meander Valley Council for replacement of the old Bracknell Hall to provide a community space and hall for youth club activities and sporting clubs.

Further, we have here a letter from his predecessor as minister for Sport that says this was an election commitment made through the Local Communities Facilities Fund.

We also have a minute to the Premier, titled 'Request for Additional Funding, Local Communities Facilities Fund election commitment 2021'. It lists four projects, one of which is the replacement of the old Bracknell Hall. It is a $400 000 funding allocation for the completion of the replacement of the old Bracknell Hall to provide a community space and hall for youth club activities and sporting clubs.

We also have a minute to the Minister for Sport and Recreation, also titled: 'Request for Additional Funding, Local Communities Facilities Fund, election commitment 2021'.

We have documentation that shows the secretary for Communities Tasmania, departmental staff and staff from the Premier's office saying this was an election commitment.

At the Estimates table last year, as we know, the minister tried to claim that all of the Local Communities Facilities Fund allocations were announced.

Mr SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, I remind the whole House that the debate is around the seeking of leave and why it is important. We are not into the substantive debate at this point, so you need to make that point.

Ms O'CONNOR - Mr Speaker, I am making the case for this to be urgently addressed. We are talking a $400 000 allocation that was kept secret during the 2021 State Election, which we had a minister say was part of the Local Communities Facilities Fund announced during the state election and said this morning in question time that it was not an election commitment.

We are not talking small change here; we are talking about $400 000 and an opaque process. We are talking about a commitment obviously made during the last state election that, for some reason or another, did not end up in last year's budget papers but did end up in a glossy about budget spending election commitments in Lyons. It is important that the House gets to the bottom of this matter.

These are public funds, clearly pork-barrelling funds. There are huge question marks hanging over the whole Local Communities Facilities Fund. There is a very big question mark hanging over this allocation. The House needs clarity because we have clearly contradictory statements now from the Minister for Sport and Recreation and we have a document trail that makes clear that the $400 000 allocation from the Local Communities Facilities Fund to the Bracknell Hall upgrade was an election commitment. There had to be a request for additional funding for the four projects that totalled $1.4 million. You can see through the flurry of correspondence after the election and leading up to the State Budget that it was a very clear understanding within the Premier's office and the department that this was an election commitment.

However, it was an election commitment that was kept secret, and the House should understand why. The House should examine potential conflicts of interest. We urge the minister to stand up here and clarify his statements in the public interest. We are talking about the administration of public funding. It is a matter of very significant public interest.

There are countless football clubs and community halls all over this island that did not receive $400 000 coming out of the last state election, that did not have the benefit of the Premier's office and the Premier's department advocating for a request for additional funds to cover their upgrades, because they did not get an upgrade. They were not in the know. They were not in contact with or favoured by a Liberal candidate or MP running at the last election.

This is an extremely urgent matter. The Greens want to understand about the probity and the transparency of this $400 000 allocation. We want to understand why the minister can say at Estimates, 'everything is kosher, all commitments were announced during the campaign', when it is clear from the documentary evidence we have that they were not. It is also clear that there was no public statement about a $400 000 allocation for the Bracknell Hall upgrade.

As I said, this is not peanuts. Either the minister is misleading the House or has misled the House, or is there is some other explanation. But at face value we have a minister who has got himself into real hot water over dodgy pork barrelling.