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Labor humiliated on Trust smear.



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Media Release

 

Natural Heritage Trust

A better environment for Australia in the 21st Century

 

LABOR HUMILIATED ON TRUST SMEAR

 

Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, John Anderson, and Minister for the Environment, Robert Hill, have welcomed the rel ease of the Auditor-General’s report into the Natural Heritage Trust, saying it is a complete vindication of the Government’ process for assessing Trust projects.

 

The Auditor General has found that

 

“the Natural Heritage Trust decision making process is f undamentally sound in providing transparency and rigour and there was no evidence of systemic bias in the allocations of funds to projects.”

 

Mr Anderson says the Auditor-General’s findings are a complete humiliation for Opposition leader Kim Beazley who h ad accused the Coalition of “rorting” the process for political gain.

 

“Every community group across Australia which received Trust funds has been smeared by Mr Beazley. The Coalition believes these community groups received money because they needed it and deserved it. Mr Beazley has implied they only got it due to a political fix because they were in Coalition seats.

 

“The Auditor-General has now found the process to be sound with no bias. It must be a huge embarrassment to Mr Beazley that the Auditor General has specifically noted that the well-documented processes of the Natural Heritage Trust stand in stark contrast to the sham process of Labor’s Sports Rorts.

 

“If Mr Beazley was any sort of leader he would withdraw his accusations, apologise to these hard-working community groups and instruct his colleagues to do the same.”

 

Senator Hill says the Auditor-General’s report will give the public every confidence in future grants from the Natural Heritage Trust.

 

“The Auditor General has found there was nothing sinister or suspicious about the proportion of funds granted to Coalition seats, as alleged by the Opposition.

 

“He has debunked their baseless smears and confirmed that the weighting was due to a higher number and value of applications from Coalition seats. He noted the programs of the Trust were aimed at major environmental issues to be found in rural Australia where the Coalition proudly holds about 90% of the seats.

 

“He also stated the obvious that rural communities are well organised and motivated and therefore put up a greater number and better quality of applications.

 

“While his report is a huge win for the Coalition, it also goes some way in removing the taint of Labor’s deliberate and unjustified smear campaign from community groups who are out there working for a better environment.

 

“They are owed an apology from Mr Beazley. Labor has no credibility on environment and sustainable agriculture issues.

 

Media contacts:

 

Rob Haynes, (Minister Anderson), 02 6277 7520 or 0419 493 511

Matt Brown, (Minister Hill), 02,6277 7640 or 0419 693 515

 

May 12,1998

(49/98)