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Tuesday, 27 May 2003
Page: 15027

Ms ROXON (2:28 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister, and it follows from his answers in question time yesterday. Is the Prime Minister aware that the budget allocated only $4 million to child abuse prevention programs, the same small program which was underspent by nearly half a million dollars last year? Can the Prime Minister also confirm that the Howard government has never run a national anti domestic violence campaign in office, that it has underspent women's and domestic violence programs to such an extent that the government could divert $10 million of this money to its terrorism fridge magnet campaign, and that it has cut $16.5 million last year from the Stronger Families and Communities fund? Prime Minister, given the prevalence of child abuse and domestic violence in our society, why has this government underspent, cut and diverted funds away from these vital areas?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the member for Gellibrand for the question. It contains a number of inaccurate statements. The first of those is the suggestion that $10 million was diverted from the domestic violence program. It was not. That money will still be spent—that is the reality of it. You divert money when you take money and you do not put it back. That has not been the case. In relation to the other part of the question, you omitted to mention the $10 million program that I announced—

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER —If members on my left wish me to apply the standing orders as they are written, that question would not have stood. I allowed it to stand. I expect courtesy to be extended to the Prime Minister.

Mr HOWARD —I remind the member for Gellibrand of an announcement I made in Perth earmarking some $10 million of the Stronger Families and Communities program specifically for early intervention strategies to tackle the problem of child abuse. This government introduced the Stronger Families and Communities program, which represented the commitment of an additional $250-odd million over a period of years—additional resources which are going into strengthening families and all of which, in different ways, are designed to tackle the problem of child abuse.

Ms Roxon —I seek leave to table the government's budget papers, which itemise each of those changes.

The SPEAKER —Leave is not granted. I am aware, and all members of the parliament are aware, of the Treasurer's point that they have already been tabled.