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Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Page: 2851


Mr VASTA (9:48 AM) —It is with regret that I rise today to expose Labor’s unconscionable treatment of a very valuable community group in my electorate of Bonner, the Bulimba Creek catchment group. This Labor government has refused to honour a promise made by the former minister for the environment, the Hon. Peter Garrett, during the 2010 election campaign to deliver $58,000 to rehabilitate the vulnerable flying fox colony at Aquarium Passage, Hemmant.

The local volunteer Hemmant-Tingalpa conservation group, supported by B4C, applied for a Care for Country grant, which was submitted under the Community Action Grants program, in April 2010. They were subsequently contacted by the previous member for Bonner and the minister for the environment, Peter Garrett, on 11 August, prior to the federal election.

A meeting took place at which Minister Garrett made a verbal commitment to deliver the Care for Country grant of $58,000. This promise was covered by the Wynnun Herald, which shows Minister Garrett proudly posing for a photo at the time of the announcement.

However, on 22 October 2010, B4C received a letter from Australian Government Land and Coasts department informing them that their Care for Country grant application had been rejected and placed on a reserve list. Bizarrely, the letter also stated:

Your proposal was not among those recommended for funding at this stage.

Well, that is not what Minister Garrett promised. What an outrageous backflip. B4C is a group that faithfully serves the community and the environment. And like many other community organisations, they trusted what this Labor government said they would deliver if re-elected to govern. This broken promise will gravely impact on B4C’s capability in staffing, staging and preparing the works planned for that site.

If the Gillard government thought that rehabilitation of this flying fox colony was a worthy project during the election, then I ask them to provide the people of Bonner with an explanation as to what has changed in the three months since the election. Clearly what has not changed is Labor’s inability to honour the promises that they make to the community. Labor cannot play politics with community groups. I ask this government to honour its commitment to the B4C and, if they do not, every representative of this government should hang their head in shame.