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Thursday, 4 April 2019
Page: 14866

Communities Environment Program

Mr BURKE (WatsonManager of Opposition Business) (14:30): My question is to the Minister for the Environment. Senate estimates has revealed that the member for Dunkley announced tens of thousands of dollars worth of grants in his seat under the Communities Environment Program, before the applications had even opened. Can the minister explain how it was appropriate for a government member to be giving away tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayers' money when applications hadn't opened, guidelines had not been published, and the department was completely unaware?

Ms PRICE (DurackMinister for the Environment) (14:31): Thank you for the question—a good opportunity to talk about our fabulous Communities Environment Program which was in our budget! This is an excellent example of the work that we've done on this side, intended to help communities to be able to conserve good environment projects. This project will provide over $22 million to ensure each federal electorate—including all of those on this side and all of those there, and all of those on this side—except we'll still be here! Once the program opens in mid 2019—

Mr Conroy: Have you got the right email address?

The SPEAKER: The member for Shortland is preventing me from hearing the answer.

Ms PRICE: Once the program opens in mid-2019, as I said, each member of parliament will have the opportunity to put forward their projects—good community environment projects. In fact, only yesterday I wrote to every member of the House outlining to them the details of the program. And of course this is in addition to the program announcement I made with the Prime Minister on 4 March. Ahead of the program, I encourage—

Mr Hart interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Bass will leave under 94(a), and whoever interjects next might as well just walk behind him.

The member for Bass then left the chamber.

Ms PRICE: Ahead of the program opening, I encourage all local members to consult with community groups in their electorates about the potential projects they may wish to nominate. The government has not awarded any funding under this program, because the program is not open. And it's no surprise that the members opposite have not been out there engaging with their communities, because their spokesperson for the environment has said that, should they occupy these benches—which they're not going to—he will abolish the $22 million Communities Environment Program. So we know what the threat is to the Communities Environment Program—and it is not us sitting on this side. That's right: under Labor, local communities will not have the opportunity to contribute, in a $22 million fund. What a disgrace!