Pearson accused of having 'privileged access to funding'

Australian prime minister Tony Abbott with Cape York Enterprises chairman Noel Pearson
Australian prime minister Tony Abbott with Cape York Enterprises chairman Noel Pearson Travey Nearmy AAP

A GREENS Senator has backed a Labor call for the prime minister to explain how a company linked to indigenous figure Noel Pearson came to receive a $33,500 research contract.

On Wednesday APN reported the Cape York Institute, a company directed by Mr Pearson, received the contract to research indigenous recognition.

It included a trip for institute staff to meet Maori leaders in New Zealand.

The contract was funded after Mr Pearson wrote to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet seeking support.

Following the institute's research, Mr Pearson reversed his support for a ban on racial discrimination in the Constitution, in a bid to address concerns held by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and other conservatives.

The Greens indigenous affairs spokeswoman Senator Rachel Siewert on Wednesday joined Labor frontbencher Shayne Neumann's calls for any reports from the research to be released.

While the department has previously said the contract followed government procurement guidelines, and that Mr Abbott's office was "aware" of the contract, Sen Siewert asked why that organisation was supported.

She also asked for an "explanation of the process undertaken", saying other Aboriginal organisations would have liked to bid for such funding if they had known it was available.

"Mr Pearson seems to have privileged access to the prime minister and funding," she said.

Mr Abbott's office has not responded to questions, while the department has said the matter was "still under consideration".

Topics:  greens noel pearson politics tony abbott

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