Save Search

Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Page: 2449

Member for Dobell


Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS (New South Wales) (14:40): My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth, Senator Kim Carr. Did the member for Dobell write to Minister Garrett on 20 July 2011 making allegations about the interaction between Central Coast Group Training and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and did the member for Dobell recently request of Mr Garrett or his office that DEEWR change their program guidelines and allow for an extension of time so that the Wyong council could prepare its own application for the Youth Skills and Employment Centre without Central Coast Group Training?


Senator KIM CARR (VictoriaMinister for Human Services) (14:41): I thank Senator Fierravanti-Wells for her questions. I can indicate that there will be a meeting held at four o'clock today at the Wyong council to discuss whether or not it will be putting forward further applications in regard to the centre that the senator has asked me about. We do know that the usual communications have occurred between local members of parliament and ministers in regard to progress on projects in their electorates. However, I can assure the senator that the applications have been assessed independently by the department and the capital works program management firm that has been engaged by the department in accordance with the guidelines and, of course, the provisions of the Commonwealth financial framework act. There has been no suggestion to the contrary that I can see. I repeat, the Wyong Shire Council is calling a meeting at four o'clock today, as I understand it, to decide whether or not work on the Central Coast Group Training joint submission for the establishment of a youth centre will proceed. The government takes the view that parties involved in this matter ought to be able to work together in the interests of young people in the region.

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Carr, resume your seat. Senator Fierravanti-Wells.

Senator Fierravanti-Wells: Mr President I rise on a point of order on relevance. I gave notice to Minister Carr that I would be asking questions on this matter. I asked him two specific questions: did the member for Dobell write to Minister Garrett on 20 July making allegations about the interaction between Central Coast Group Training and DEEWR and did the member for Dobell recently request of Mr Garrett or his office that DEEWR change their program guidelines and allow for an extension of time so that the council could prepare its own application? They were very specific questions, Mr President, and I would ask you to direct the minister to answer them.

The PRESIDENT: I cannot direct. Senator Evans.

Senator Chris Evans: Mr President, on the point of order, I make the point that Senator Fierravanti-Wells sending the minister her question before question time does not in any way change his responsibilities to the Senate. His responsibility is to provide information available to him that is relevant to the question. Senator Carr has been absolutely relevant to the questions asked of him. Senator Fierravanti-Wells may be trying to prosecute a case by abusing a member of the other place but that does not mean Senator Carr has to do anything other than meet his normal responsibilities.

Senator Brandis: On the point of order, Mr President: Senator Evans is correct that advance notice does not change the minister's responsibilities in answering the question. But it does make it less excusable for a minister to give a vague and blustering answer to a very specific question when he has been given advance notice of the specific question. It could not have been more specific: were one or other of two communications sent?

Senator KIM CARR: I rise on the point of order, Mr President, because I have more to say on the substantive question. It has been stated here on two occasions now, as it was yesterday, that advance notice was given on the specifics of a question. That is untrue—totally untrue. I want to indicate that, if the opposition seek to provide advice to the government about a question, they are entitled to do that, but it is untrue and it is misleading the Senate to make the assertions they have made.

The PRESIDENT: That is now debate. The Senate knows that I cannot direct a minister how to answer the question. The minister, I believe, was answering the question, and the minister has 40 seconds remaining.

Senator KIM CARR: Mr President, I have been answering the question directly with respect to the specifics. Has the member for Dobell written to the minister? I indicated yes and I have indicated that routine correspondence had been entered into. I have also indicated that, in terms of the application itself, further developments are occurring today—which might be of interest to Senator Fierravanti-Wells if she were actually interested in the project as distinct from pursuing her own personal vendetta against the member for Dobell. I make the point that the vendetta that is being pursued here is by the opposition against the member for Dobell. (Time expired)










Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS (New South Wales) (14:46): Ah, dear Minister Carr! Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Is it not the case, Minister, that the member for Dobell in his communications with Minister Garrett has been attempting to scuttle Central Coast Group Training's involvement in this youth skills and employment centre?


Senator KIM CARR (VictoriaMinister for Human Services) (14:47): As to the specifics of your attacks on the member for Dobell, I notice that you were able to get quite a substantial covering on the 7.30 program last night. You of course failed to point out the political interests that are being pursued in this matter by other parties associated with this particular—

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Come to the question, Minister.

Senator KIM CARR: The member for Dobell has indicated—

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Minister, continue.

Senator KIM CARR: This project arose as a result of an election commitment by this government. The government is in the process of delivering on it. The application is being assessed in accordance with the proper procedures of the guidelines. Further developments are occurring with regard to the two bodies that have sought application for this particular project. The local member has supported the project publicly and in many other ways. (Time expired)






Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS (New South Wales) (14:48): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. What is the minister's message to the young people on the Central Coast, where youth unemployment is as high as 40 per cent, who remain out of work as a result of their local ALP member's interference in this grant process?


Senator KIM CARR (VictoriaMinister for Human Services) (14:48): I thank Senator Fierravanti-Wells for her question. The message is very simple. It is that this is a government that is actually committed to full employment. This is a government that is committed to working with local communities to ensure that economic opportunities are spread throughout our economy. The Community Infrastructure Grants Program—from which this youth centre is seeking support—is an example of that commitment. This is a government that launched the national strategy for young Australians, which actually aims to empower young Australians to be able to participate in our economy and our society. This is a government that is totally committed to ensuring people get a fair go.

And what is the message I will also give? It is that those opposite are not interested in that message. They are not interested in support for people in this country to get a fair go. They are not interested in ensuring a full-employment economy. They are not interested in social justice. They are interested in pursuing political vendettas. (Time expired)