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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (21 April) . . Page.. 1072 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

to be done on the targeting of particular issues from this grants program. You said that you expected a submission from the department in a couple of weeks about the way in which the Government could deliver those grants. That has passed. The question I ask is: Is it a fact that the Government has decided to cut the funding for the community safety grants program from $70,000 to $30,000, in spite of all the earlier rhetoric? In particular, Minister, how was that decision taken, by whom and how and when was it conveyed to the department?

MR HUMPHRIES: Yes, it is the case that I said on the previous occasion that I expected to receive a brief from my department on a revised set of recommendations for allocations under the community safety grants process. I did receive that recommendation and I have since made decisions in respect of that. The amount being allocated this year for community safety grants is much reduced from what it was in the previous year. It is in the order of $30,000, rather than $70,000 as in the previous year. That does not connote, Mr Speaker, a permanent cut to the size of the community safety grants program. What it does connote is that, in my view, there was not sufficient quality in the applications for this year to warrant the full allocation of $70,000.

I do not want to elaborate on what I see as the shortcomings in the applications, because all the applications were made with the best of intentions and certainly directed themselves at worthwhile purposes, but not necessarily to an order of priority that would warrant the allocation of the full $70,000. For example, there was one proposal to make a video about public behaviour issues for the influencing of young people. Although I think that that is an issue which is quite important, I was not convinced that the opportunities to distribute a video or have it seen by a large enough number of young people would warrant the quite substantial amount of money that was being proposed in that application.

That is an assessment I made as Minister and it is one which every Minister needs to make. The philosophy we take in government is that, merely because there is a pot of money and a list of applicants, you do not necessarily say that the applicants must get what is in the pot of money. There is an overriding consideration on the part of the Government to make sure that what we spend is being spent well and in a cost-effective way. If we are not satisfied about that, it is our duty to make sure that the money is reserved until some better use can be made of it, or some other purpose should have the money applied to it. The decision was made by me, Mr Speaker, in my office and it was conveyed back to the department by way of a minute to me which I annotated.

MR WOOD: I have a supplementary question. I would like to follow up with a couple of points on that, Mr Speaker. Firstly, Minister, was your decision based on recommendations made to you? I assume that there was some sort of committee or process by which these applications came to you. Did you agree or disagree with what came through to you? Secondly, is that $40,000 still available? Will it carry over? Can it be applied for in the future?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I think that either the community safety committee or a subcommittee of the community safety committee had made the original recommendations. Obviously, I disagreed with those recommendations to that extent and conveyed back to the - - -

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