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Thursday, 9 February 2012
Page: 602

Mr FRYDENBERG (Kooyong) (13:48): I rise to highlight a graphic example of Labor's gross economic incompetence. Members will agree there are many to choose from, but the government's failure to effectively administer the Infrastructure Employment Projects Program is hard to beat. Established as part of the government's economic stimulus package, it has received a damning assessment from the Auditor-General in a report that exposes a litany of failures in the way the program was devised and implemented. Millions of taxpayers' dollars have been spent on projects that were not properly evaluated. There was no attempt by the department to analyse the quality of proposals that were referred to it by the infrastructure minister's office. Local employment coordinators, who are the repositories of expertise in the relevant areas, were never consulted and not one project was completed in the designated priority employment areas.

It beggars belief that the minister has yet to be fully held to account for this fundamental breach of Commonwealth grant guidelines. Not only was money wasted but the goal of creating jobs was never achieved. In fact, no jobs were reported as created or retained until over a year into the program and, in the words of the Auditor-General, the program did not achieve its 'economic stimulus objectives in the anticipated time frame'. This is simply not good enough. It is time the government accepted the blame and held its head in shame.