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Treasury - Election Campaign Sports Club Funding

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Monday, 6 September 2021

Tags: State Budget, Treasury

Ms O'CONNOR - I want to talk about the election campaign and funds that were allocated to sporting clubs. After the last election, because we had a section 19 return we had this extraordinary list of little clubs sprinkled all over Tasmania who were given grants and hand-outs. It was a pretty effective election strategy along with letting the gambling industry bank-roll your campaign.

We saw money in this last campaign handed out in Clark, for example, to the Glenorchy Bowls Club, South Hobart Bowls Club. I don't think anyone at this table begrudges those small clubs some funding, but it does raise the issue of clubs that were fortunate enough to receive an election promise or commitment and then the rest of the clubs who didn't receive that largesse, who will now have to apply through Sport and Recreation.

It's a two tiered system, really. You have the sporting clubs and organisations who were there during the campaign and got lucky, or asked and were given. Then you have the rest of the sporting clubs who have to fill out all this paperwork, all this detail. Do you think that's fair?

Mr GUTWEIN - I think I said the same thing at the last election. The feedback that sitting members and candidates receive from around their communities -

Ms O'CONNOR - Liberal candidates.

Mr GUTWEIN - You have the option to make election commitments, as you see fit. I presume that you do.

Based on feedback information provided, we came up with a series of policy positions. That's exactly what we did here in terms of the sporting and community infrastructure spend. All of those grants are listed in the Budget individually.

Ms O'CONNOR - Yes. In the key deliverables statement on page 329 of Budget paper No. 2, Volume 1, it highlights supporting clubs, sporting clubs and RSLs, and the total across the forward estimates is a bit over $1 million. Does that capture all of the sporting clubs and organisations that were promised during the campaign?

Mr GUTWEIN - There are a range of grants provided through a range of different agencies. For example, at the start of Budget paper No. 2, there's a range of grants and investments that are set out by agency. In fact, I think election commitments by agency will give you a list of all of the different grants and election commitments made across all agencies.

Ms O'CONNOR - Yes, it's interesting because you talked just a moment ago about these being matters of policy. It's not about policy - it's about an allocation of funds to a particular organisation in order to secure their support during a campaign, isn't it? It's not a policy question?

Mr GUTWEIN - I think it's largely about ensuring that we can improve facilities for communities.

Ms O'CONNOR - Why can't you do that between elections?

Mr GUTWEIN - One of the things that happens is that during elections there are a range of programs. The timing of this election was somewhat earlier. Again, these are all worthwhile investments in local communities. I hope you would agree.

Ms O'CONNOR - I do agree. It's just the process of the blessed and unblessed, of sporting organisations that weren't lucky enough either to be in a marginal seat or with a local member who hassled about a particular grant. It's an unfair process, don't you agree?

Mr GUTWEIN - No, I don't. I must admit I have always been of the view that elections are good for our communities. They actually allow for a range of investments to be made that underpin the broader regional community, in many cases, but also across the cities as well. So, I don't have an issue with how it's done. Transparently, every commitment that's made is provided in the Budget.

Ms O'CONNOR - But that's not a grant application. That's a political document where candidates fill in a one-pager that can lead to tens of thousands of dollars of public funding being promised and handed out.

Mr GUTWEIN - Again, the process we employ is fair, it's reasonable and, importantly, it's transparent. Here in the Budget are all of the commitments.

Ms O'CONNOR - Not as transparent as it was.