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Thursday, 18 November 2004
Page: 63

Senator O'BRIEN (2:07 PM) —My question is to Senator Ian Campbell, representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services. Can the minister confirm that the Regional Partnerships Program of Minister Anderson's own department is responsible for providing a grant of $6 million to the National Equine and Livestock Centre during the federal election campaign? Can the minister also confirm that Minister Anderson had refused a $3.5 million grant to the National Equine and Livestock Centre in 2002, when he relied on an independent assessment by Professor John Chudleigh which found that there were serious concerns about the project's viability? Can the Minister explain to the Senate the basis for the stunning reversal on this funding and exactly what involvement the Deputy Prime Minister had in the assessment of both applications and in the final decision to make the grant? Were any representations made by Senator Sandy Macdonald in relation to this very significant grant announced during the election campaign?

Senator IAN CAMPBELL (Minister for the Environment and Heritage) —I do not have information on that particular grant or that program, but I would be happy to get whatever information I can and report back in due course.

Senator O'BRIEN —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I thank the minister for his assurance. I would urge him to report back to the Senate today on those matters. That information must be easily available. What action will be taken to safeguard all departmental documents and records regarding all consideration of funding for the National Equine and Livestock Centre, including the unsuccessful applications on previous occasions and the successful funding bid during the recent federal election campaign?

Senator IAN CAMPBELL (Minister for the Environment and Heritage) —I have already given an undertaking to bring relevant information back in due course.