Funding should be based on merit and equity, not political self interest

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Here we go again, following closely on the heels of this Government’s $100M sports rorts fiasco and the Western Sydney airport land purchase for more than 10 times its value, is the $660M Urban Congestion Fund carpark rort implemented by none other than our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, just before the country went into caretaker mode before the last Federal election.

Thank goodness for the impartial Auditor-General.

No doubt, they will be punished by budget and staff cuts for daring to tell, we, the Australian public, the truth about this continuous soft form of corruption that these Coalition Governments seem hell bent on normalising in the public psyche or, worse, throw their hands up in the air and say there’s nothing we can do.

So, what is this particular misuse of a staggering $660M of our public money?

Well, on the eve of declaring the May 18 election, Scott Morrison personally signed off on 27 carparks worth a staggering $389M.

The Coalition did not use an open tender system and instead said that they themselves would identify the projects worth funding.

Could this have the potential for a misuse of these huge funds do you think?

This nationwide program aimed to reduce parking congestion around commuter hubs across Australia but, instead, funnelled most of its cash into a handful of Liberal held seats that were at risk of falling into the hands of Labor or Independents.

Sixty-four percent of the 47 carparks were promised for Melbourne, even though Sydney’s parking congestion is far worse.

Five in Deakin, key Labor target; four for Kooyong, the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s seat, under pressure from high profile Independents.

Chisholm, which lies between Deakin and Kooyong, and with seven railway stations but no sitting member, received none.

None promised to the congested Labor held western Melbourne seats.

Much closer to home, Robertson, held by Lucy Wicks and under threat from Labor’s Anne Charlton, was promised two, Banks, held by David Coleman on less than three percent, was promised four, similarly, Lyndsay was promised three.

The Auditor-General’s report was scathing saying that the Infrastructure Department’s choice for the placement of these car parks was ‘not appropriate’ and the process was not designed to be ‘open and transparent’, while the Federal Government’s failure to engage the State Governments and local Councils in the process would increase the risk that the projects would ‘not deliver the desired outcomes at the expected cost to the Australian Government’.

In one case, the Department’s only advice that planning should start was a press release by the Prime Minister. (Sydney Morning Herald News Review p23 July 3-4, 2021)

So, if you continue to believe this is good governance, vote again for the party that is trying to make you accept that misuse of taxpayer’s money is normal.

Personally, I think you should think long and hard about it.

We should also push for a change to the regulations so that once a decision for grant funding is made, it should be excised from the political process and placed into the hands of the Public Service, which allocates funding against criteria, based on merit and equity, not political self interest.

Self serving politicians must not be allowed to amend or interfere with the process thereafter.

Maybe then, we could trust the politicians to deliver the infrastructure and other funding where it is most needed.

Email, July 11
Susan Wynn, Mannering Park