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Thursday, 15 November 2018
Page: 8367


Senator McKENZIE (VictoriaDeputy Leader of The Nationals and Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation) (16:30): I table responses to questions taken on notice during question time on 14 November 2018 asked by Senators Bilyk and McCarthy relating to the New Zealand Office of Tourism and Sport and to housing infrastructure in Borroloola. I seek leave to have the documents incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The documents read as follows—

PRIME MINISTER

Dear Mr President

I write with regard to questions I took on notice from Senator Bilyk during Question Time on Wednesday, 14 November 2018 on the matter of the employment of the Prime Minister as Director of the New Zealand Office of Tourism and Sport.

I can confirm that the Prime Minister was Director of the New Zealand Office of Tourism and Sport from 1998 to 2000. This included a period serving in the role following the election of the Clark Labour Government where he agreed to remain on following discussions with then Tourism Minister Mark Burton, with whom he had a very positive and productive relationship, until deciding to return home to Australia to take up an opportunity in the private sector.

I can confirm that the Auditor-General report to which Senator Bilyk referred was an inquiry into the appointments of, payments to, and resignations of, members of the New Zealand Tourism Board.

I can confirm that the New Zealand Office of Tourism and Sport was responsible to the Minister of Tourism and was a semi-autonomous body within the Department of Internal Affairs. The New Zealand Tourism Board was a Crown entity separately accountable to the Minister of Tourism.

I can further confirm that all organisations, government and non-government, including those led by the Prime Minister, which are required to make financial statements are audited on a regular basis as part of their usual obligations.

I have copied this letter to the Prime Minister and Senator Bilyk.

Kind regards

Mathias Cormann

Minister for Finance and the Public Service

15 November 2018

INDIGENOUS HOUSING

Dear Mr President

I write with regard to questions I took on notice from Senator McCarthy during Question Time on Wednesday, 14 November 2018 on the matter of the Government's plan to provide housing infrastructure in Borroloola, which will provide immediate relief to families and children living in some of the worst housing conditions in the country before the wet season.

I can advise the Senate that the decision to provide Borroloola with immediate housing relief was a decision of Government made in the normal way and with the full knowledge of the Prime Minister. Furthermore, representatives from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, as well as the Australian Army and the Northern Territory (NT) Government met with the community on 7 and 8 November 2018, to discuss options for addressing the urgent need for housing.

I can further advise that the commitment to delivering housing in Borroloola is in addition to the $14.6 million committed to Borroloola under the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing. The commitment also follows the decision by the Government to provide the NT Government with additional assistance worth $259.6 million to deliver essential services, including to remote communities.

The use of former Royal Australian Air Force houses was discussed with the community as a solution which could be immediately rolled out, noting these were existing older stock. All dwellings in Borroloola must be certified, which means they must be appropriate for the cyclone areas and adhere to the building code of Australia. I can confirm that dwellings will not be installed with asbestos.

Following these discussions and further assessment of the options, no former Royal Australian Air Force houses have been purchased. The Government is not pursuing the purchase of any former Royal Australian Air Force houses for use in Borroloola.

The Government will continue to consult with the NT Government, the Northern Land Council and communities as it works towards a solution for the housing issues in Borroloola.

I have copied this letter to the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, the Special Envoy for Indigenous Affairs and Senator McCarthy.

Kind regards

Mathias Cormann

Minister for Finance and the Public Service

15 November 2018