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Thursday, 16 December 1993
Page: 4841

Senator PANIZZA (3.19 p.m.) —by leave—I move:

  That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Transport and Communications (Senator Collins), in response to a question without notice asked by Senator Brownhill this day, relating to road funding.

I was very interested to hear what Senator Collins had to say on the subject of untied road funding. It has always been my belief that, if we wait long enough, the pigeons will come home to roost. Some 18 months ago—correct me if I am wrong—when road grants to the states were untied I expressed my grave fears, not only to the government when the legislation was going through, but also to my own party. I did not convince my own party, let alone the government, that that was the wrong way to go. So it was very interesting to hear Senator Collins say today—I forget the figure that he cited—that so much of road funding allocated to states finished up being spent on anything but roads.

Senator Collins —I just gave one example, Senator.

Senator PANIZZA —Senator Collins picked New South Wales, but I can refer him to other places that have Labor governments, especially WA when it had a Labor government.

Senator Collins —Not WA. WA has spent all its untied grants on roads.

Senator PANIZZA —Except for $8 million. The government should look at that situation. Because of my experience in local government, I expressed fears at the time that that could happen. The point is that, although Senator Collins has told us it is a great tragedy that the funds are getting away from roads, the federal government has been guilty of doing much the same thing—or helping someone else to do much the same thing. I refer to the $8 million of WA road funding that was allocated or directed by the Treasurer—

Senator Collins —It is not road funding, Senator.

Senator PANIZZA —It was road funding. It is not road funding now, if you have diverted it, of course. Your former Premier, Carmen Lawrence, has said that. She wrote to Mr Dawkins.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Panizza, would you direct your remarks through the chair, please.

Senator Collins —What have you got against Subiaco oval?

Senator PANIZZA —I have got nothing against Subiaco oval. I happen to be a member of the WA football members league, so I would like a lot to be done at Subiaco oval, but with the right sort of funds. There was $8 million taken away from road funding by Mr Dawkins and directed—

Senator Collins —There was not.

Senator PANIZZA —I have a letter here from the former Premier of Western Australia, Carmen Lawrence, to Mr Dawkins which states:

Dear John

I refer to your letter of 2 June 1992 proposing that $8 million of road funding made available for Western Australia under the `One Nation' statement be reallocated to the Subiaco Oval. . .

I cannot not agree to this proposal, as Western Australia has very substantial needs for road funding which are not being met from existing resources.

There is other correspondence around to show that that $8 million disappeared from the road funding of Western Australia. I have asked Senator Collins before to find out where it is and to redirect it, then we will all be happy. Until he does that, he has no right to stand up in this Senate criticising the government of New South Wales—or any other government, for that matter—for not spending road funding on roads. Senator Collins is the one who can fix up two things: firstly, get back to tied road funding; and secondly, find the $8 million that Mr Dawkins lost for Western Australia. Then Senator Collins can really say that he has done his job right.