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Wednesday, 11 August 1999
Page: 8406

Mr BEAZLEY —My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, did you sign a letter approving 16 projects under the Federation Cultural and Heritage Projects Program on the very day you went to Government House to call the election last year in the face of independent departmental advice that these projects had not met the criteria for approval under the program? Did not Ministers Hill and Alston intervene in the independent assessment process to ensure that these 16 projects made the cut, in complete contravention of the Auditor-General's guidelines on arms-length approval procedures for community grants programs? Further, why did you announce these projects during the election campaign against the rules applying to caretaker governments?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I will check the records as to when I signed particular things. There is nothing unusual about announcing during an election campaign that, if you are re-elected, you will do something. I thought that was a fairly regular habit, and that is the general stance that I bring to these things. I am satisfied that the procedures that were fol lowed by the government in relation to these matters were appropriate.

I note, incidentally, that there has been some sort of reference to the fact that there are a lot of projects that went to marginal seats on the coalition side. It so happens that, before the 1998 election, we held a lot of marginal seats by dint of the verdict in 1996. I remain satisfied that the correct procedures have been followed. If there is anything I need to add to what I have said I will do so in an appropriate way.