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Tuesday, 30 November 2004
Page: 42

Senator IAN CAMPBELL (Minister for the Environment and Heritage) (3:09 PM) —The latest rant from Senator Carr has drawn attention to three facts, all of which, if you take away the hysteria of Senator Carr's comments, reinforce the correctness of the government's decision in granting this money under the Regional Partnerships program. Senator Carr's first claim was that the junior minister—and that was at the time and still is Mr Jim Lloyd—had agreed to the grant. The process is well known within this government if you are dealing with a grant that is in your electorate. The Deputy Prime Minister undertook to have the matter dealt with by another minister in the portfolio. That is something that he did when I was in the portfolio in relation to some of these grants, as I recall. The minister is required—and it is what I did and what I am absolutely sure Mr Lloyd would do—to look at it with his fresh set of eyes and to ascertain that the grant was within the guidelines. That is what I did when these grants came before me and that is what Mr Lloyd has done also. Ultimately it is Mr Lloyd's name as the minister that is on the letter. He has approved it and under his responsibilities he has to make sure that that is the case. So what has Mr Anderson done? He has said, `It is in my electorate so I am going to hand it over to another minister to make his assessment of it.' Mr Lloyd took responsibility for it. This is what he has done. It is a proper and correct process that has been abided by.

Secondly, Senator Carr has said, `This is in his electorate. It is a National Party sectional interest.' What he is really saying there is that if you happen to be in an electorate of The Nationals you should not get any regional grants. That is of course stupid. The Nationals represent significant areas of Australia—

Senator IAN CAMPBELL —and the Liberal Party do as well, Senator Ferris. In fact I am told that the Liberal Party represent more regional electorates than any other party in Australia. If you are a Liberal Party minister like me and want to deliver a grant to Western Australia, because that is my electorate, you are saying we should exclude Western Australia from receiving grants because I happen to represent Western Australia. If you happen to be Warren Truss, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, you should not have any grants to his electorate because he happens to be minister there. It is an absurd nonsense, a nonsense generated by a political party that have no understanding of probity or of proper process. They have been so long out of government that the normal processes of government are absolutely unfamiliar to them.

It also shows a political party absolutely out of contact with regional and rural Australia, as I said during question time. They live in the inner-city suburbs. They spend all their time sipping cappuccinos and wondering what they can do to further wreak havoc on regional and rural Australia. This is the political party under Mr Hawke and Mr Keating that totally destroyed the economy of Australia, drove interest rates up above 20 per cent for farmers and other people out there in regional Australia and wiped out a whole generation in regional Australia. Now they are in opposition they want to keep doing it. They will not give any credit where it is due.

The third point he makes is that the company operates from a farm in regional Australia and that, because he lives on the farm and he runs his business from the farm, he should not get support for a regional project. The reality, as you know better than most of your comrades opposite, Mr Deputy President, is that most people in regional and rural Australia run their businesses from their home. And what is the home called? It is called the homestead or the farmhouse. They have got a kitchen table there and they are the ones who sit there working hard day and night trying to figure out how they are going to reinvigorate their regional communities. Here is an Australian who has come forward with a project which will provide 50 permanent jobs and 350 indirect jobs in a massive benefit for the environment and a massive benefit for the community. Yet here are the Labor Party, who were wiped out at the last election because regional and rural Australia said, `We don't want these people running the economy again. We don't want to risk having these guys back in charge,' showing why they are so out of touch.

Senator Carr has also described to us very well that this project matched the guidelines. Senator Carr is now saying that he has discovered the guideline under which it was approved but he does not like the guideline. You do not think we should approve projects that have a national interest. We believe in supporting the local interest. We believe in supporting the regional interest and we believe in supporting the national interest. I would like to get Senator Carr or anyone who has the guts on the Labor Party side to say that this project would be cancelled under Labor. (Time expired)