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Wednesday, 27 November 1985
Page: 2396

Senator VIGOR(8.05) —On 17 September Estimates Committee F was told that the Office of Local Government was writing to unsuccessful applicants for grants under the local government developmemt plan, explaining reasons for rejection. This is recorded at page 607 of the Hansard record. I will read part of one of those letters of explanation:

Only $4.65m was available in total last financial year for grants to projects spread across Australia. It is not surprising that the total value of requests for funding greatly exceeded the monies available and I regret to advise you that your request has been unsuccessful.

A phone number was given for people who required elaboration on any aspects of the project or the local government plan. I just hope that the information available to them at that phone number was a good deal more illuminating that the explanation offered in the letter. When applicants have no real idea of what was deficient about their proposed project, they can be justified in feeling angry. Can the Minister for Community Services (Senator Grimes) provide an assurance that detailed reasons for rejection are available to unsuccessful candidates, or was the Senate Estimates Committee misled?

Applications closed on 31 October for grants in this financial year. I would like to know how many applicants put forward proposals and what would be the total cost of those proposals? The guidelines for the 1985-86 year give no weighting to the criteria for assessing projects. I would like from the Minister some idea of whether there is any predetermined allocation for each State. At a later date I would like to have incorporated in Hansard the written instructions that have been given to officers assessing those projects. I believe it is extremely important with grants of this kind that information should be available to the public and to the people applying for those grants. This should be a matter of course. A better type of answer should certainly be given to people who have put an enormous amount of effort into preparing an application for a grant.