24 May, 2016
The Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) hearings really did show those on this side of the house, and indeed all who listened, exactly how little Labor ministers are across their portfolio responsibilities. Special mention should go to the member for Mill Park, formerly the Minister for Industry. It is an extraordinary situation that the member for Williamstown, who took over the portfolio just yesterday, probably knows as much about the portfolio in 24 hours as the former minister does, given her performance in PAEC.
With tens of millions of dollars' worth of funds at her disposal through the Future Industries Fund and a range of other funding sources, the minister was completely unable to say where funds had gone, who had been or would be funded and under what criteria those funds would be paid out. She even denied responsibility for one of her industry funds even though it formed part of her opening presentation to PAEC last year. Worse still, when asked about what output measures these industry funds had, rather than talk about commercial investment or jobs growth, she said that the funding was to make vulnerable communities feel safe and to give them hope. It is very clear that what is supposed to be multimillion-dollar support to industry is actually Labor slush funds to be used for favours and to buy photo opportunities.
Because the former minister was unable to articulate any reasonable or expected measure of success for payment, I will be referring the operation, payments and funding criteria of the funds in the industry portfolio to the Auditor-General for investigation. It is unreasonable that these taxpayer dollars should be used in such a frivolous way, with no checks or balances. The minister's testimony at PAEC shows that she is either utterly ignorant or trying desperately to hide the facts. It is right and proper that an independent investigation determines which it is.