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Berejiklian Government’s Leader of the Legislative Council, Don Harwin suspended from Upper House

In a media release this morning it has been revealed that the Berejiklian Government’s Leader of the Legislative Council, Don Harwin, was last night suspended from the House after being found in contempt of the Parliament.

The Legislative Council had called on the Government to produce the approval paperwork for the $252 million Stronger Communities Fund - Tied Grant Round. No paperwork was produced.

Don Harwin is the first Leader of the Government to be suspended since Michael Egan in 1998.

The Legislative Council voted to 23 to 15 to find Mr Harwin in contempt and suspend him for the rest of the sitting day.

Shadow Minister for Local Government, Greg Warren, said the Government had gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal its role in the misuse of public funds.

“This is why I referred these grants to the Auditor-General.”

“A thick, dark cloud of secrecy is hovering over this Government around their administration of grants schemes, including the Stronger Communities Fund,” Mr Warren said.

“The heart of this issue is transparency and if the Government fails to produce all relevant documents, clearly there is a significant issue that needs to be addressed.

“Governments are elected to serve the public – not their own self-interest.”

The Upper House inquiry into the Integrity, Efficacy and Value for Money of NSW Government Grant Programs will resume on Friday, October 23. 26th March 2018 The Bay Post reported "The $26 million in funding includes $18 million for the aquatic centre, and $8 million for the arts and cultural facilities. The funding will come from the NSW Government’s $1.3 billion Regional Growth Fund."

Mr Harwain is well known to Eurobodalla and his connection to the Mackay Park Project.

On the 15th August 2018 the Hon. LYNDA VOLTZ asked a question without notice in NSW Parliament directed to the Minister for Resources, Minister for Energy and Utilities, and Minister for the Arts.

Legislative Council Hansard – 15 August 2018 (source )

BATEMANS BAY ARTS AND CULTURAL FUNDING

The Hon. LYNDA VOLTZ (15:28): My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Resources, Minister for Energy and Utilities, and Minister for the Arts. Given the Premier and the member for Bega jointly announced on 26 March that they would provide $26 million for a new indoor aquatic and cultural centre at Batemans Bay consisting of $18 million for the aquatic centre and $8 million for the arts and cultural facility, where will the $8 million for the arts and cultural component be drawn from?

The Hon. DON HARWIN (Minister for Resources, Minister for Energy and Utilities, and Minister for the Arts) (15:29): I thank the Hon. Lynda Voltz for her question about a project with which I am familiar.

The Hon. Paul Green: A great project.

The Hon. DON HARWIN: I acknowledge the interjection of the Hon. Paul Green. It is a great project. There is no doubt that the Batemans Bay community strongly supports the project. I will take on notice the aspect of the question about where the arts and cultural component of that is funded. As I informed the House yesterday, people should be aware that the Regional Cultural Fund round two is open. I imagine this project would be eligible but I need to check if there is an existing funding agreement. The project was certainly not funded as part of round one of the Regional Cultural Fund. It is a great project that has the strong support of the member for Bega and I can see why. I will be very happy to get back to the honourable member as quickly as possible.

The PRESIDENT: I will allow the Hon. Lynda Voltz to ask a supplementary question because question time started late because of my announcements.

The Hon. LYNDA VOLTZ (15:31): Will the Minister elucidate his answer in relation to round two of the Regional Cultural Fund? When will round two funding announcements be made?

The Hon. DON HARWIN (Minister for Resources, Minister for Energy and Utilities, and Minister for the Arts) (15:31): I may have covered this question in my answer yesterday but, if I did not, it is planned that round two announcements will be made before the end of this calendar year. I cannot be more specific at this stage. There was a large number of applications for round one, as honourable members are well aware.

The Hon. Peter Primrose: It is supposed to be a competitive process and you are announcing it already.

The PRESIDENT: The Minister should not be responding to interjections. The Minister has the call.

The Hon. DON HARWIN: There are a large number of regional funds and often good projects in regional New South Wales are eligible to apply to a number of them. There is no particular surprise about that, even if it has an arts and cultural aspect. I am not sure what the interjection was directed towards.

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