Greens call for an immediate end to pork-barrelling in wake of NSW Auditor-General revelations about former NSW Deputy Premier

Australian Greens

3rd February, 2023: The release of the NSW Auditor General’s Bushfire Recovery Grants report highlights rampant misuse of taxpayer funds by the NSW Coalition government for their own political ends.

As stated by Tamara Smith MP, Greens Member for Ballina:

“The Greens call on the NSW Premier to do the right thing and make a solemn commitment, today, to the people of NSW that none of the election commitments they are trotting out every day will follow this tired old formula of putting their own political survival ahead of the genuine needs of the people of this State.

“The release of the Auditor General’s Bushfire Recovery Grants report reveals what we already knew about the Coalition’s attitude towards public funds, and the former Deputy Premier John Barilaro’s blatant pork-barrelling of the bushfire grants.

“The Greens led an Inquiry into the integrity of NSW Government grant funds in 2020 and the findings were damning – dodgy practices, overt bias towards Coalition held seats, and a complete lack of transparency within the NSW grants program.

“Nobody is surprised to learn just how flawed the delivery of Bushfire grants was in the hands of John Barilaro and this Government.

“These findings should be deeply concerning to everyone in NSW. Especially to those in fire and flood affected parts of NSW, who have been constantly been let down by this government’s failed response to climate fueled natural disasters,” Tamara said.

“The former Premier Gladys Berijiklian infamously said pork-barrelling isn’t illegal – well it should be!

“How out of touch with ordinary people do you have to be to use the taxes of hard working women and men in our communities to prop up your National and Liberal mates?

“In the leadup to the March state election, the NSW Premier must not make promises that reek of the sort of rampant pork-barreling that we are all so used to from this old, tired ‘coalition’ government.

“Our communities need a commitment to fair, open, and transparent administration of public funds.

“It demonstrates just how concerned they are about being thrown out of office, which is what they deserve,” Tamara said.

In 2021, Greens MLC David Shoebridge first brought this pork-barreling to light as Chair of the NSW Public Accountability Committee. Their inquiry into NSW Grant Programs heard “damning evidence about the $250 million Stronger Communities Fund in particular and its use as a blatant pork-barrelling scheme prior to the last State election.”

As stated by Amanda Findley, Greens Candidate for South Coast:

“Instead of showering Coalition seats with money for things like adventure parks, Barilaro should have been out in the community seeing exactly what the needs of the people were.

“This is a classic LNP cynical vote buying exercise that has left the needs of people last.

“Those who had to rebuild after the fires needed financial assistance to help secure access to their rural properties, and rebuild their lives.

“Shoalhaven was devastated by fire and we know what our friends in the Blue Mountains and beyond went through.

“We have enormous sympathy for them and will support them seeking further financial assistance from any new government,” Amanda said.

/Public Release. View in full here.