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Tuesday, 31 March 1987
Page: 1518

Senator REYNOLDS —I address my question to the Minister for Finance. Has the Minister seen a Sun news report which details the extent of a Queensland Government surplus of receipts over expenditure to the tune of $102m which the National Party Government has failed to spend on services for the people of Queensland? Can the Minister ask his Department of Finance to investigate this hoarding of dollars to ensure that no Federal grants for vital community services remain in this category? Will this slush fund be taken into account when considering State grants at the forthcoming Premiers Conference?

Senator WALSH —I have seen some references to the matter raised, but I am not familiar with all the details. I know that in the past specific purpose payments which have been made available to Queensland have not been drawn down and, just as an aside, the Queensland Government has simultaneously abused the Federal Government for not providing sufficient funds. There is certainly a record of that happening. Senator Reynolds's question goes beyond that, as I understand it. It was: Will I investigate the possibility of funds having been actually paid to Queensland for specific purposes not being used for those purposes? The answer is: Yes, I certainly will.

Indeed, there is also a record of that sort of Commonwealth money having been misused by the Queensland Government in precisely that way; although to be fair one should say not, to my certain knowledge, to the extent of $102m or anything like that. I certainly will investigate that further. I would not be at all surprised if tens of millions of dollars, if not $100m, of Commonwealth payments made to Queensland have been misused-effectively misappropriated-in the way that Senator Reynolds suggests. I will do everything I can to track it down, although I dare say that if I were successful in doing so the National Party toadies in the Senate would probably try to prevent me from giving the Senate the details of it.