February 16, 2021

PAT CONROY, SHADOW MINISTER ASSISTING FOR GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY: Morning, I’m Pat Conroy, the Shadow Minister Assisting for Government Accountability. I’d like to talk about the latest rorts from this Government: the rorting of the proceeds of crime funding through the Safer Communities Fund.

It’s clear that Minister Dutton who claims to be the Minister for Law and Order, who prides himself on being the Minister for Law and Order, is actually diminishing community safety by taking money from the most deserving projects in an effort to win votes in marginal seats. That’s a disgrace and the Minister has real questions to answer.

And unfortunately this is the latest in a series of rorts by this Government. We’ve had sports rorts, community grants rorts, we had the regional community infrastructure fund that funded the North Sydney pool. This Government thinks taxpayers’ money is Liberal Party money. They spend taxpayers’ money like it’s Liberal Party money, and it’s clear that before the 2019 election, they were desperate to be re-elected. It was like the last days of Rome - they were just throwing buckets of money out the door to win votes. That’s a disgrace, and Minister Dutton needs to be held to account.

Furthermore, Prime Minister Morrison avoided answering important questions in Question Time yesterday about the Ministerial Code of Conduct. How is it consistent with the Ministerial Code of Conduct that Peter Dutton was instructing his department to design a grants program to deliver one grant? A grants program to deliver one grant of $880,000 to the National Retail Association in the same year that he received a $6,500 donation from the National Retail Association. In fact, only a week after receiving a $1,500 donation to a dinner that the National Retail Association attended, he instructed his department to speed up the design of this grants program. Prime Minister Morrison needs to be accountable, and he needs to say how this is consistent with the Ministerial Code of Conduct.

Happy to answer any questions.

REPORTER: Well what hold does Dutton have over the Prime Minister? Why won’t the Prime Minister act?

CONROY: Well I think the Prime Minister has form on just refusing to deal with accountability in this Government. He just thinks he’s going to tuck and roll, say ‘nothing to see here’, and that the caravan will move on. So I think Dutton is clearly a powerful player in the Liberal Party. He doesn’t want to rock the boat by saying he has to go, but clearly there are huge questions to answer.