14 February 2006

All coins in Parliament House fountains to go to UNICEF

| johnboy
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This time last year we reported on the very Canberra story of the quandry caused by morons throwing their money into fountains at Parliament House.

Yesterday the ever amusing Finance And Public Administration Legislation Committee revisited the issue. (Hansard here.) It seems that people throwing money at the Parliament of Australia don’t want the government to have it. They want it to go to UNICEF.

Senator FAULKNER—Firstly, I have a very brief follow-up on a matter that received a little bit of publicity out of the last estimates round, which was the coins in the fountains here at Parliament House. That seems to be a happy story—I think you would agree, wouldn’t you, Ms Penfold—that has had a happy ending? Would that be right?

Ms Penfold—It will have a happy ending. We are still working through with the Department of Finance and Administration the legal implications of how we go about giving away money that is covered by the FMA Act. The current plan is that we will be setting up a special trust account where the Australian currency will go, and then, once a year, we will clean that out and get the foreign coins and hand them both over to the UNICEF people.

Senator FAULKNER—Obviously someone—I do not know whether it was the presiding officers, on your recommendation—has made a decision that UNICEF receive these moneys. That is true, isn’t it?

Ms Penfold—Yes.

Senator FAULKNER—I know that because UNICEF in fact wrote to me, thanking me for addressing the issue in Senate estimates. It is rare that I get a congratulatory letter, so I just wanted to get that on the record. Ms Penfold—They have not written to us yet.

Senator FAULKNER—The reason probably is that you have not actually given them any money yet, by the sound of it. So you will probably get your letter of thanks when you do so.

Ms Penfold—In due course. That is right. You are right: there are two decisions there. The decision was made effectively by the President at the last estimates hearing that the foreign coins would go to UNICEF. The President and the Speaker have subsequently directed us that the Australian money should also go there.

Senator FAULKNER—Excellent. You might let us know on notice perhaps when those matters have been finalised.

Ms Penfold—Certainly.

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