Water Week

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Independent MP Andren for Calare seeks Govt clarification: can private organisations offer to prepare applications on behalf of schools for Community Water grant and charge 15pc as fees?

Posted by waterweek on 18 September 2007

Peter Andren, Independent member for Calare, in the House of Representatives, Commonwealth, on 20 March 2007 asked the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Malcolm Turnbull in writing, whether it was government policy to allow or encourage private organisations, such as Water & Energy Savers (Vic) Pty Ltd, to contact schools on the eastern seaboard in New South Wales and to offer to prepare Community Water Grants applications in exchange for payment.

Fees constitute 15pc of grant: Andren further questioned Turnbull whether it was permissible under the Community Water Grants guidelines for schools that receive a Community Water Grant on the basis of an application prepared by Water & Energy Savers (Vic) Pty Ltd to pay that company a management fee of 15 per cent of the total grant received.

Member seeks Government role: He asked whether the provision of generic letters of support drafted by organisations such as Water & Energy Savers (Vic) Pty Ltd, but signed by Members of Parliament (a) permitted under the Community Water Grants guidelines and (b) regarded by him and his department as satisfactory evidence of the worthiness of projects for public funding. Whether the practice was encouraged by the Government, and how many organisations were engaged in the activity and the grants provided during the last two financial years.

15pc for project admin, clarifies Govt: In his reply, Turnbull said that was not government policy to encourage private firms to contact schools and offer to prepare grant applications. The Community Water Grants guidelines allowed grant recipients to allocate up to 15 per cent of funding to project administration, however, they could not use the grant to pay for the preparation of an application.

15pc is the upper limit: The Department was unable to provide the total sum of grant money received as commission by private firms. Project administration costs were not separately identified from other project costs. However, financial acquittals did require project administration costs to ensure the 15 per cent project management cap was not exceeded.

Programmes aimed at community support: Applicants were encouraged to seek letters of support from local community leaders as evidence of community support for the project, which was one objective of the programme.

Letter of support no proof of worthiness: Turnbull said the Government did not regard generic letters of support themselves as satisfactory evidence of a project’s worthiness and did not encourage any firm to draft letters on behalf of applicants, nor was it known how many organisations were involved in such activity.

Reference: Peter Andren, Independent member for Calare, House of Representatives, Commonwealth; Malcolm Turnbull, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Member for Wentworth, Liberal Party of Australia, House of Representatives, Commonwealth, 11 September 2007.

Erisk Net, 11/9/2007

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