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Tuesday, 7 December 2004
Page: 44

Senator BOLKUS (3:12 PM) —I have to say at the start that it is a bit rich to be lectured on financial responsibility by a bloke who had to be saved by a special favour from the ANZ Bank with respect to his financial irresponsibility. In question time today we saw more evidence of this government-rorted, taxpayer-funded program. This program was rorted by the government in order to win favour at the last election. This program took money from the taxpayer in an endeavour to con them and to buy their votes. It is more evidence of the government using taxpayer funds—as Senator O'Brien said, no matter what it takes—in this case for no baser purpose than to buy votes.

The program was geared to development and to development in rural and regional Australia. We saw through evidence today and over the last week or so that the program's outcomes were far distant from its designed objectives. The program's objectives were development, regional development and rural development. Its outcomes in so many circumstances were not the needs of the electorate but the needs of government members in marginal seats. As we saw in question time today, we have the funding of a dog day centre, so aptly called Happy Tails, in Brisbane; we have funding for a church body to fit out a centre from which Hillsong can deliver its employment and mentoring programs to the Redfern community; and we have in my state of South Australia funding of almost $800,000 in metropolitan electorates—not in rural and regional Australia.

South Australia is a great example. We should look at South Australia in terms of how a program which could have done a lot of good in addressing the needs of rural and regional South Australia was diverted to accommodate and give priority to the needs of government members. There is real need in rural and regional South Australia. In places like the Pit lands to Port Augusta and Port MacDonnell there are communities in real need. Places like Port Lincoln and Clare are burgeoning economies also with infrastructure needs.

But what do we have? We have the funding of some selected programs in accordance with the electoral priorities of government members. I am not saying that the projects that were funded are not worthy of funding; what I am saying is that under this program they should not have been given the priority that they were. This is a program for rural and regional South Australia, for rural and regional Australia. If projects like these can be funded under this program, what about all the other community groups that also had meritorious claims but did not apply because they believed the government's literature that this program could not be accessed by them? What we have is a misappropriation of funds for rural and regional Australia.

As I said, in the state of South Australia close to $800,000 in funds has gone to metropolitan Adelaide. When you look at those projects, you find that six football clubs, two soccer clubs, one church group and one metropolitan transport hub in metropolitan Adelaide received funds. One program for rural students and one project in Morphett Vale, which may in its operation cover rural and regional South Australia, received funds. The Parrakie Football Club got $35,000; the Modbury Junior Football Club got $60,000; the Ingle Farm football club got $35,000; the Golden Grove football club got $30,000; the Para Hills Knights soccer club got $25,000; and the Modbury soccer club upgrade got $25,000. All those clubs are in the seat of Makin. To top it off, $187,000 went to the Golden Grove church redevelopment, which is also in the seat of Makin. So footy clubs won out—but just some football clubs.

What about those football clubs in electorates like Hindmarsh? What about those sports and soccer clubs in inner city Adelaide, in Thebarton and Mile End? They worked under the apprehension that this program was not for them. They worked under the apprehension that Thebarton, Mile End, Lockleys and Henley Beach were not part of rural and regional South Australia, and clubs in those places did not apply. In Adelaide the Kilburn community and sports club—another sports club—got $250,000; the Ovingham sports club got $30,000; a boarding house for Indigenous students at Northfield got $17,000; and a project for the identification of transport logistics and employment opportunities in Enfield got $44,000. Those places are nowhere near rural and regional South Australia. As well as that, a program in the seat of Kingston, in Morphett Vale, got $99,000. That may actually have an outcome for rural and regional South Australia. Sports clubs have needs. This is not the program for them to have those needs met. (Time expired)