The Commonwealth Auditor-General is considering a request from the Federal Opposition to examine the Government’s funding of drought programs.
On Wednesday the Auditor-General, Mr Grant Hehir, announced on Twitter that his office had received the request from Shadow Agriculture Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, regarding the examination of drought funding measures, and that the “request is under consideration.”
Mr Fitzgibbon’s request, made on Tuesday, 2 October, expressed concern over the Government’s ad hoc and confusing drought response, asking the Auditor-General to examine “all Government drought initiatives since 2014 with particular reference to the Government’s claim it is spending $7 billion, a number that does not appear to be reflected in actual measures; and the design, implementation and effectiveness of each program, including the Drought Communities Program.”
Mr Fitzgibbon also expressed concern that “the Government has refused to make public the report of the Drought Coordinator, Major General Stephen Day,” a report that may have cost the tax-payer as much as $5.6 million.
“I welcome the Auditor-General’s swift acknowledgement of my request and look forward to clarifying the drought response,” Mr Fitzgibbon said. “A lot of people in the bush are confused by the programs, taskforces and initiatives being rolled out by the Government, and yesterday we had another one – the National Water Grid Authority.
“Yet at the same time we have the Drought Coordinator’s report, which Australians have paid for, and it’s being kept secret by the Prime Minister. It’s time to reveal the facts and have an honest dialogue about the drought. This is an Australian issue – it’s not a political one.”