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Tuesday, 7 December 2004
Page: 42

Senator O'BRIEN (3:02 PM) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the answers given by the Minister for the Environment and Heritage (Senator Ian Campbell) and the Minister for Defence (Senator Hill) to questions without notice asked by opposition senators today.

It was quite amusing to see Senator Ian Campbell fall into the same trap that he put himself into previously. The first bit of advice I would give to Senator Campbell is: when you get a brief from the National Party, particularly from Minister Anderson about a program that he has shamelessly used to pork-barrel in National Party electorates and to assist the Liberal Party in electorates that they thought they could win or needed to defend, you should look very carefully at the brief and treat with caution the suggestion that was made to him, very obviously, that the form of defence was to attack the Labor Party and say, `This program is all about regional Australia; therefore the Labor Party is attacking regional Australia by questioning this program.'

It only took one response for that defence to fall to smithereens, to be absolutely shattered. What better example could there be of divergence of the Regional Partnerships program from regional Australia than the advice to the Senate of a program which appears on Mr Anderson's department's web site as being funded under that program—that is, the project, which has been identified finally by Senator Ian Campbell in his answer today, which is located at Bondi in the seat of Wentworth in metropolitan Sydney. Of course, other answers revealed that there are a number of other projects, valued at over $3 million, which happened to have leaked out of regional Australia into metropolitan Australia. When you examine the profile of those approvals you see that they have been in the main directed towards seats which the government needed to defend or which the government thought it had a chance of winning. That is the reality. Wentworth is a good example.

Who can forget that preselection battle between the disendorsed sitting member, Mr King, and Mr Turnbull. Mr Turnbull, of course, expended a great amount of money and exhorted a whole lot of people to be branch-stacked into the Liberal Party for him to win preselection from a sitting member. The sitting member then fought back and said he would stand as an Independent. So is it surprising that we see $221,000 going into that great electorate of Wentworth, where some of the wealthiest people in Australia live, which contains some of the most expensive housing in the country—that great electorate of Wentworth that has been held by the conservative parties consistently since it was formed? Yet $221,000 is awarded to that electorate.

I wonder what Mr Abbott said, because his seat did not get any money. What did Mr Abbott do to Mr Anderson? His seat did not get a cracker. But Mr Turnbull's seat got $221,000. Ross Cameron must be absolutely filthy—he could only get $20,000 in the seat of Parramatta. What would Ross Cameron be thinking now—`What did I do wrong?' He obviously regrets what he said to the Telegraph. He probably regrets not checking out who was sharing the flat. Since Senator Ian Campbell suggested last week to Senator Carr that he should go and buy himself a pair of Blundstones, get them a bit dirty and go and talk to people who are trying to build regional Australia, Mr Anderson was reported in the Australian on Saturday as saying that the Regional Partnerships program does not discriminate against particular parts of the country. What it discriminates against, in the main, are seats that are not of interest to the National Party and the Liberal Party. It discriminates against seats such as Warringah or other northern Sydney seats or Banks, Lowe, Blaxland, Reid or Werriwa, which did not get a cracker. What it demonstrates is that this funding program had a set of guidelines on the web site but a big `get out of jail' loophole guideline overriding all of the rest, kept secret since September last year, which allowed the funding of a variety of programs that did not fit the original guidelines. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —I call Senator McGauran.