The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) on Thursday handed down a scathing assessment of the former Coalition government’s $1.38 billion Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF).
The audit found two thirds of funded infrastructure projects were “not those assessed as being the most meritorious”.
Liberal-held seats received twice as many grants as Labor electorates, while Nationals seats also got $104 million more funding under the BBRF than a merit-based process would have allocated.
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For example, funds were allocated to pickleball courts, a speedway track and beach boardwalk upgrades by a panel of ministers headed by former deputy prime ministers Barnaby Joyce and Michael McCormack. Moreover, they had ignored merit-based recommendations from bureaucrats.
Labor claims the Coalition tried to politicise the BBRF in order to bolster its chances of re-election, with Infrastructure Minister Catherine King stating the former government had “actively ignored grant guidelines”, and “dudded hardworking regional Australians”:
“Former Coalition ministers made decisions on the basis of ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ criteria that weren’t fully explained to those applying for grants,” [Catherine King said]…
“Regional Australians deserve better. Taxpayers deserve better”…
The ANAO’s findings are in line with a litany of scandals involving former Coalition ministers who overruled official advice to fund their preferred projects.
The above highlights why we desperately need a robust federal anti-corruption commission that includes blatant pork-barreling.
It’s time to drain the swamp.