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Thursday, 3 February 1994
Page: 329


Mr RONALDSON —My question is addressed to the Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories. I refer the minister to the memo written by Ms Kaye Dal Bon, assistant secretary of the sport and recreation branch, who was in charge of the program on or about 5 November 1992—which incidentally, as the minister would know, was after the audit of the program had begun—expressing concern that the department would be `vulnerable' in relation to the exercise of its responsibilities under this program and suggesting possible action to `copper bottom' the department. Were shoddy administrative practices sanctioned on high, as claimed by Ms Dal Bon? Further, why was no action taken by the minister's department to properly document decisions made under the program, despite Ms Dal Bon's warning that documentation was inadequate, both within the department and the minister's office?


Mrs KELLY —Welcome back. Last night the shadow minister and I attended the ABC sports awards. I hope that when he returned he reported some of the proceedings to the Liberal Party room. One of the highlights of the night was one of the comedians out there performing. He was talking about a group called the Buffalo Bills. He said, `The poor Buffalo Bills. They have lost four Superbowls in a row. One more loss and they'll have to change their name to the Liberal Party'.


Mr Sinclair —This has nothing to do with the question.


Mr Atkinson —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. The performances of comedians at functions outside of this place have nothing to do with the question. The question was to do with the minister's responsibility. I ask you to direct her to get back to the question.


Mr SPEAKER —There is no point of order. The minister is answering the question.


Mrs KELLY —I hope those opposite heard what I just said: the comedian said, `One more failure and they'll have to change their name to the Liberal Party'. Over the last few months, I have answered numerous questions—over 36 questions—in this parliament. There have been MPIs and censure motions. On not one occasion has it ever been revealed that I have at any stage misused funds or that there was any impropriety at all. Those opposite have tried every trick they can. They have put ads in newspapers around this nation, trying to get dissatisfied people involved in the sporting community to come forward. They have achieved absolutely nothing.

  The Auditor-General made further comments today, including reference to the memo. All that is answered in my secretary's response. But the bottom line in all this is that, from November until now, in this parliament, we have had the same questions over and over again. The reason for that is that there is a policy and a leadership vacuum over there. Out in the broader community there have been policy changes. The economy has improved; summer is over; we have won the cricket; unemployment figures are better. But what are those opposite doing here in the House of Representatives? They are asking the same questions over and over again. They do that because they are totally bereft of leadership and policy.

  The only policy initiatives we have had so far on this from members of the opposition are their own statements on this matter, which I did read the other day. I would like to go through that again. What is the opposition's policy initiative in relation to the sports facilities? It wants to get a big bag of money and hand it out to every member of parliament to give to every federal electorate in Australia, regardless of what the needs and facilities are. Presumably, those opposite believe the electorate of Vaucluse is the same as that of the western suburbs of Sydney. The shadow minister for sport said:

. . . it might be appropriate to give a sum of money to every member of the House, for them to distribute within their own electorate . . .

I wonder what the Auditor-General would say about that.