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Wednesday, 11 August 1999
Page: 8407

Mr BEAZLEY —My question is to the Prime Minister and is further to the question which I asked the Prime Minister previously. Prime Minister, how can you glibly claim that this letter merely represents an election promise when it formally and officially commits the Commonwealth to expenditure? Are you aware that your letter to your ministerial colleagues stated:

Thank you for your letter . . . jointly signed with the Minister for Environment, seeking my approval of projects you have recommended for funding through the Federation Cultural and Heritage Project programme.

. . . . . . . . .

Accordingly, I am pleased to approve the projects you have recommended—

thereby committing the Commonwealth to funding, irrespective of who wins elections, which is precisely why you did it while you still had the authority to do so.

Mr SPEAKER —The Leader of the Opposition knows not to enter into an argument.

Mr BEAZLEY —Mr Speaker, if it was merely an election promise, why did the Prime Minister simply not state his intentions in that regard without formally approving expenditure?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I am interested that the Leader of the Opposition used the expression `Why did you do it while you still had the authority to do so?' If taken on its own, that is an interesting acknowledgment that no caretaker period may have commenced at the time the position was taken. I do not quite know what the Leader of the Opposition is getting at. The question is the substance and whether these were fair and proper decisions. They were taken on a proper basis and I repeat the answer I gave to the first question. If there is anything further I need to add, I will do so.