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Regional infrastructure grants program targets Coalition seats

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Election Rorts | QED | The Nationals
National Party

Regional infrastructure grants program targets Coalition seats

March 2019

A regional infrastructure grants program, administered by Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, awarded 94% of its grants to electorates held or targeted by the Coalition in the months leading up to the 2019 federal election.

Analysis by Nine News, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age of the Building Better Regions Fund showed that 156 of the 166 infrastructure grants announced two months before the 2019 election went to Coalition-held seats, or electorates it was targeting. Nine grants, totalling more than $4 million, were awarded to the seat of Indi, held since 2103 by Independent Cathy McGowan but which the Nationals were trying to win. Previously, it had long been a Liberal seat.

The number of announcements in Indi in March 2019 prompted McGowan to lodge a complaint to the Auditor-General but an audit was not conducted.

Grants totalling $7 million also went to nine organisations in the marginal Victorian electorate of Corangamite. Grants in round three from the regional program went to organisations in Health Minister Greg Hunt’s Victorian electorate of Flinders, which is designated “urban” under other government schemes.

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Conflicts of Interest

Redirecting funding to pet hobbies; offering jobs to the boys without a proper tender process; secretly bankrolling candidates in elections; taking up private sector jobs in apparent breach of parliament’s code of ethics, the list goes on.

Deceptive Conduct

Claiming that greenhouse gas emissions have gone down when the facts clearly show otherwise; breaking the law on responding to FoI requests; reneging on promised legislation; claiming credit for legislation that doesn’t exist; accepting donations that breach rules. You get the drift of what behaviour this category captures.

Election Rorts

In the months before the last election, the Government spent hundreds of millions of dollars of Australian taxpayers’ money on grants for sports, community safety, rural development programs and more. Many of these grants were disproportionally awarded to marginal seats, with limited oversight and even less accountability.

Dubious Travel Claims

Ministerial business that just happens to coincide with a grand final or a concert; electorate business that must be conducted in prime tourist locations, or at the same time as party fundraisers. All above board, maybe, but does it really pass the pub test? Or does it just reinforce the fact that politicians take the public for mugs?

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