Shadow Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government, Stephen Jones MP, today labelled Minister for Regional Development, Senator the Hon Fiona Nashs response to new analysis of the Community Development Grants rort as a smokescreen and a complete diversion.
The facts dont lie. The Turnbull Government poured money into marginal and Coalition-held electorates in the lead up to the 2016 election.
The figures are there on the Departments website for all to see: http://investment.infrastructure.gov.au/funding/communitydevelopment/index.aspx.
The figures show:
- Morethan $16 million into Barnaby Joyces backyard.
- Morethan $20 million into the wealthy Sydney electorates of Wentworth andNorth Sydney.
- Morethan $130 million into Coalition-held NSW electorates in the lead up to the 2016 election whilst spending only $3.6 million in Labor-heldelectorates.
The object of the Community Development Program is to provide for the long term viability of local communities; clearly, the Minister has taken this to mean the long term viability of the Turnbull Government.
The Ministers own Department confirmed projects are funded at the Ministers discretion and without a competitive funding process.
Successive Minsters for Regional Development have used the Community Development Grants as a slush fund using millions of dollars of public money for their own political purposes.
The Ministers feeble attempt to try and deflect these facts is hollow and transparent.
The Commonwealth Grant Guidelines tell Ministers that the ANAO has put an emphasis on the geographic distribution of grant activities as a measure of equitable distribution.
The Minister has blatantly disregarded this.
Last week in in Senate Question Time, the Minster described her decisions for this program as balanced, well thought out and measured.
Surely shes joking.
This lack of respect for decent ministerial standards is all the more reason why the Prime Minister should ask the Deputy Leader of the National Party to step aside.