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Monday, 3 November 2003
Page: 21838


Mr Martin Ferguson asked the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, upon notice, on 26 June 2003:

(1) Further to the answer to question No. 1187 (Hansard, 14 May 2003, page 14515), can he explain how the then Minister for Regional Services, Senator Ian Macdonald, was able to announce funding for the project “Blue Mountains World Heritage Cultural Centre contribution towards building costs” on or before 30 October 2001 as reported in the Blue Mountains Gazette of 31 October 2001 when his answer indicates the project was approved by the Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government on 18 April 2002.

(2) On what date did the Department of Transport and Regional Services receive an application for this project.

(3) What information was provided to Senator Macdonald about this project in the four weeks preceding 30 October 2001.

(4) What information was provided to Senator Macdonald about other Regional Solutions Program applications between 1 October 2001 and 10 November 2001.

(5) On what dates did the Regional Solutions Program Advisory Committee consider the following projects:

(a) Gippsland Timber Development Inc. application for the Forests for the Future Interpretive Centre,

(b) National Rose Garden of Australia Inc. application for the National Rose Garden of Australia project,

(c) Southern Downs Steam Railway Association Inc. application for the Steam Locomotive Refurbishment, Boiler Rebuild and Recommissioning project,

(d) Council of the City of Blue Mountains application for the Blue Mountains World Heritage Cultural Centre contribution towards building costs project,

(e) Pyrenees Shire Council application for the Avoca Exhibition and Convention Centre - Stage 3 project, and

(f) Scone Shire Council application for the Scone Medical Centre project.

(6) For what reason were the following projects not referred to the Regional Solutions Program Advisory Committee:

(a) St Phillips College - Fred Mackay Centre,

(b) Qantas Foundation Memorial Ltd - Qantas Founders Outback Museum Stage 2,

(c) Ballarat City Council - Ballarat Retail Development Program,

(d) North East Telecommunications Co-operative Ltd - Centre for On-Line Regional Excellence (CORE),

(e) Central Goldfields Shire Council - Central Goldfields Rural Plan Business Cluster Improvement Implementation,

(f) Mackay Tourism and Development Bureau Ltd - Mackay's Artificial Reef Project,

(g) Shoalhaven City Council - Catering Vehicle for Shoalhaven Rural Fire Service,

(h) Shoalhaven City Council - Shoalhaven Rural Fire Service Paging System,

(i) Council of the Municipality of Kiama - Microfiche Digitiser for the Kiama Family History Centre, and

(j) Frontier Services - John Flynn Foundation.


Mr Anderson (Minister for Transport and Regional Services) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) At the time of the announcement of the project on 29 October 2001, the source of funding was not specified.

(2) 10 May 2001.

(3) I am advised that a review of Departmental records indicates that no information was provided to Senator the Hon Ian Macdonald about the “Blue Mountains World Heritage Cultural Centre contribution towards building costs” project in the four weeks preceding 30 October 2001.

(4) Recommendations concerning funding of Regional Solutions Programme (RSP) projects were forwarded to the Minister for Transport and Regional Services and the then Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government jointly prior to the introduction of the caretaker period at noon on Monday, 8 October 2001.

Information provided to Ministers after noon on 8 October 2001 was in accordance with Item 6.5: Requests from Ministers' Offices for Information of the Guidance On Caretaker Conventions issued by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in September 2001. Policy advice on the RSP was not provided.

(5) (a) The Regional Solutions Programme Advisory Committee (RSPAC) considered the application at its meeting on 17 - 18 September 2001.

(b) 12 April 2001 and 27 April 2001

(c) 29 June 2001 and 3 October 2001

(d) 6 July 2001

(e) 23 November 2001

(f) 25 January 2002

The response to (b) - (f) above refers to those dates upon which assessments for projects were emailed to the RSPAC for comment. Committee members had generally approximately one to two weeks in which to provide comments to the Department of Transport and Regional Services.

(6) The RSP was a discretionary grant programme in which Minister(s) were the decision-makers on applications for funding. In arriving at decisions, Minister(s) are not required to seek the advice of the Regional Solutions Programme Advisory Committee.

In relation to part (6) (f), I am advised that funding for the Mackay Artificial Reef project was considered by Government in the context of the 2002 - 03 Budget and it was agreed that monies would be provided from the existing Regional Solutions Programme. This was reported in the 2002-03 Transport and Regional Services Portfolio Budget Statements.