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Thursday, 28 October 1993
Page: 2751

Senator FERGUSON —I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Industry, Technology and Regional Development. I remind the minister that only $600,000 of the $40 million of better cities funding allocated to the MFP in the One Nation statement has been spent so far and that the department has advised the Senate Estimates Committee E:

Given the lack of progress it was agreed that 1992-93 funding for the MFP/Northwest Crescent area strategy would be redirected to new and existing area strategies in South Australia

I ask the minister: which new and existing area strategies will the 1992-93 funding of $10.2 million be redirected towards? Is this $10.2 million now lost to the MFP? Is the federal government withholding the remaining $29.8 million? Under what circumstances will the funding be released?

Senator SCHACHT —Mr Howe is the minister in charge of the Better Cities program and Senator Richardson represents Minister Howe in this chamber. The use of better cities money for the development of the MFP site at Gillman, which was a decision taken nearly two years ago, has been a matter of negotiation—at times, I would have thought, undue lengthy negotiation—with the state government. I understand that in the last week there have been discussions between the MFP and the state government, and between the federal government and the state government and the minister for housing in charge of this funding, to get final agreement on the expenditure.

  As Minister responsible for the MFP, I have encouraged a speedy outcome because I would have to agree with Senator Ferguson that at times there has been undue delay in reaching agreement about the expenditure of that money. Senator Ferguson asked about $10 million being redirected—I do not have that information with me, but I will get it and report back to him.

Senator FERGUSON —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. The question I really wanted the minister to answer was: is the $10.2 million, which was to have been allocated in the One Nation funding, now lost to the MFP if it is to be redirected to new and existing area strategies? Does it mean that that $10.2 million is no longer available to the MFP project?

Senator SCHACHT —As I understand it, until these negotiations are completed, I do not believe it will be lost to the MFP.

Senator Vanstone —When will they be completed?

Senator SCHACHT —As I say, those negotiations have been taking place only in the last few days. Of course, people opposite, as part of their election strategy to assist Mr Brown, will do everything to talk this down or create apprehension that the MFP is not going to work as a major project. As I have said, the negotiations have been going on in recent days, and I am not going to chance my arm in here without getting information about the outcome of those negotiations. When I do, I will report back to the Senate.