Tuesday, 9 February 2021

When accused of 'porkbarrelling' NSW funding Liberal Premier Berejiklian's response was 'But everyone does it!' While Nationals Deputy Premier Barilaro's comeback was 'Witch hunt!'


"People call me ‘Pork Barilaro’, well I’ll wear the title with a badge of honour." [NSW Deputy Premier & Nationals MP for Monaro John Barilaro, tweeting on 28 August 2020]

ABC News, 8 February 2021:

The NSW Deputy Premier will today be grilled over why three areas in non-Coalition electorates didn't receive any funding through the Government's bushfire grant program, despite suffering millions of dollars in losses.

Last year the NSW Government handed out $180 million for projects in communities affected by the 2019/2020 Black Summer bushfires without an open application process.

The Blue Mountains didn't receive any money even though Government data found the area suffered an economic loss of $65 million.

The Central Coast also missed out and the hit to its economy was found to be $163 million.

Both are in Labor-held seats.

The NSW Government also didn't provide any funds in the Greens-held seat of Ballina although the Byron economy was found to have suffered an economic impact of $88 million.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro will today front a parliamentary inquiry into Government grants programs that has been extended to investigate the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund.

Chair of the inquiry, Greens MP David Shoebridge, said politics was influencing who got money and who didn't.

"There is no doubt that there were some Coalition held seats that had very real damage from the fires," he said.

"But then equally we saw seats held by the Greens, held by Labor and held by the Shooters Fishers and Farmers party which had very real damage as well... and they did not get a cent.

"Now that's politics."

Deputy Premier John Barilaro defended the program, which he was responsible for overseeing, and said such criticism was a "witch hunt"….

The Deputy Premier is expected to questioned by Upper House MPs at the parliamentary inquiry about how the Government decided to allocate the funds.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has so far refused to front the inquiry.

Last year, when an inquiry investigated the $250 million Stronger Communities Fund, which distributed $141 million to Coalition seats, Ms Berejiklian admitted the Government had engaged in pork-barrelling.

"I think all governments and all oppositions make commitments to the community in order to curry favour," she said.

"But in relation to this program, [the money] went to important projects across this state, yes, more of them went to Coalition seats, but guess what — there are more Coalition seats than any other.

"It's not an illegal practice. Unfortunately, it does happen from time to time by every government."

No comments: