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Thursday, 22 March 2012
Page: 4023


Ms MACKLIN (JagajagaMinister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Minister for Disability Reform) (15:23): Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.

The SPEAKER: Does the honourable member claimed to have been misrepresented?

Ms MACKLIN: I do, Mr Speaker.

The SPEAKER: The honourable member may proceed.

Ms MACKLIN: Yesterday the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit released a letter from the Auditor-General alleging that I had contravened the Commonwealth's grant guidelines by failing to notify the Minister for Finance and Deregulation that I had approved 10 grants to organisations in my electorate. These claims were also reported in today's media.

One of these was to the Children's Protection Society, a child welfare organisation that provides support and counselling to children in crisis and their families.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The minister will be heard in silence. She must direct her attention to where she is personally misrepresented, and I am listening carefully.

Ms MACKLIN: At the time I made the decision on this grant my department overlooked its reporting to the finance minister—

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! I have just said that the minister will be heard in silence. She will be as expeditious as possible.

Ms MACKLIN: The oversight was reported as soon as it was realised, in July last year. The other nine grants referred to in the report relate—

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. For the minister's personal explanation to be in order, she needs to be showing how the Auditor-General's report has misrepresented her, and she has not even addressed the Auditor-General's report.

The SPEAKER: I have listened carefully to the minister. She will continue her personal explanation and she will show where she has been personally misrepresented.

Ms MACKLIN: As I said in my opening remarks, the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit released a letter from the Auditor-General alleging that I had contravened the Commonwealth grant guidelines and this was reported in the media as well. As I was going on to say, the other nine grants referred to in the report relate to emergency relief funding which is provided to community organisations to help families in crisis. At least one of the organisations listed is not even in my electorate. In relation to the others, I was not the decision maker in making these grants; that responsibility was delegated to the relevant state manager of my department. Therefore I did not approve the funding. There is no requirement to report to the minister for finance. Any suggestion otherwise is entirely inaccurate.

The Department of Finance and Deregulation has confirmed—

Opposition members interjecting

Ms MACKLIN: These are serious allegations which I am refuting.

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. Personal explanations are designed to be brief, to show where a person has been personally misrepresented and then take their seat. If she wants to make a ministerial statement, we will give her leave to do so.

The SPEAKER: The minister is entirely in order. When a number of allegations have been made they have to be dealt with one by one. The minister has the call, but she will be as expeditious as possible.

Ms MACKLIN: The department of finance has confirmed with my department today that, given that I was not the decision maker in this instance, I was not required to report to the minister for finance. I have written to the Auditor-General today following the release of his report asking for these inaccuracies to be reviewed and corrected.