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Regional solutions: $4m: one third for one electorate.

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Sue Mackay - Regional Solutions - $4m - One Third For One Electorate Monday, 04 June 2001

Regional Solutions - $4m - One Third For One Electorate Sue Mackay - Shadow Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government

Media Statement - 1 June 2001

The Coalition Government is at it again - rorting the allocation of taxpayers' money to try to save their political skins.

Last night in Senate Estimates Hearings it was revealed that Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson has intervened to allocate $4 million to a "stand alone" program in the electorate of Wide Bay.

"I am astounded that one-third of the $12.6 million which was to be spent this year under the Department of Transport and Regional Services "Regional Solutions" Program is to be spent in just the one electorate" said Senator Sue Mackay, Shadow Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government.

"The Department told me last night in Estimates Hearings that this happened after the direct, personal intervention of the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Anderson.

"And we don't even know any details of how this money will be spent, how many projects will be funded, or what purpose the money will be put to -just some vague promises of jobs 'in the future'.

"While I think there is a need for strategically focused programs in communities such as those in Wide Bay, this spending comes at the expense of other people living in regional Australia who are also suffering from high levels of unemployment and economic disadvantage, and who do not have the good fortune to live in a marginal Coalition electorate.

"Pork barrelling for Warren Truss is the only way I can characterise this allocation of funds.

"In his recently published biography, former National Party leader Tim Fischer admitted the Coalition was an accomplished exponent of the art of directing taxpayers' funds for blatant political and electoral purposes - and they're at it again.

"The communities in the Wide Bay electorate will not see one cent of this money before the imminent Federal election, as no specific projects have been announced, and draft guidelines are still being worked on.

"The Member for Wide Bay, who nervously sits on a margin of just 2.9% will be hoping that this money will change his electoral fate.

"But no matter how many times he announces it, I doubt the electorate will be so easily bought off," said Senator Mackay today. Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.

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