The first allocation from the forest deal slush fund has raised more questions, almost three weeks after the Coalition called for detail about how it would be dispensed.
Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced that $10 million from the fund would go to Sense-T, a project based at and partnered by University of Tasmania (UTAS).
In mid-May, announcing she was topping the fund up to $100 million to be spent over four years, then Prime Minister Julia Gillard said allocation of the funding would be guided by UTAS Professor Jonathan West.
"It has been weeks and still we are waiting on basic information about how the allocation of this $100 million will be determined, how people apply and on what basis decisions will be made," Coalition forestry spokesman Senator Richard Colbeck said.
"And we've already had a local ALP member declare he knows where a lot of the money will be spent.
"It seems that the Labor/Green Government has learned nothing from the debacle of the contractors' exit grants and the two Auditor General reports that came about as a result.
"To date we have seen no information on what governance arrangements, if any, cover the carve up of this funding.
"This scheme sits in a complete vacuum of accountability. What protection does that offer the reputation of institutions, such as UTAS, and individuals like Professor West, while that remains the case?"
Senator Colbeck has previously called on the Government to clarify simple questions about the scheme:
- What was the application process to access the funding?
- Who was eligible?
- What were the terms and conditions?
- What is the process for assessing projects or applications?
- Who was on the panel with Professor West and how would they operate?
- What was the process for announcing the grants?
- What are the compliance arrangements?
Each question remained unanswered, he said.
"It seems the whole process is shrouded in a cone of silence," Senator Colbeck said. "The new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd must come clean and open this slush fund to proper process or this sham created by Julia Gillard, Tony Burke and their green mates will soon be his to own too."