Regional Queensland’s LNP MPs must come clean on which local organisations got ripped off, through the LNP’s latest regional rorts scandal.
This week, the Morrison Government was caught out trying to hide a scathing Audit into the administration of the Regional Jobs and Investment Packages less than an hour before the Melbourne Cup Race.
The Cairns Post didn’t miss a beat, with a damning front page and strong editorial reporting that there “clearly were” conflicts of interest in the Local Planning Committee. Warren Entsch and Michael McCormack must come clean on their roles as local MP and Ministerial Panel member, and explain why the conflict of interest was never disclosed and so many local businesses missed out on support.
Regional Queensland LNP MPs and the Deputy PM Michael McCormack must come clean on their roles as local MP and Ministerial Panel member and explain:
- Why 64 grant applications from businesses and local organisations around Australia were rejected, after being recommended by Departmental officials?
- Why, across the five Central Queensland electorates – all held by LNP MPs – decisions to not approve recommended applications occurred more than three times the national average?
- How many organisations in regional Queensland were recommended for funding by Departmental officials, only to have their applications overturned?
- How many local applications were knocked back, in favour of projects that were ineligible?
- Why across Far North Queensland, a massive 89 per cent of funding went to the LNP marginal seat of Leichhardt, held by Warren Entsch, at the expense of the seat of Kennedy held by an Independent?
- How did the LNP Government advertise applications for these programs? Did the people of Kennedy get a fair go at applying?
Speaking on ABC Radio yesterday, Bowen Chamber of Commerce President, Bruce Hedditch said he was frustrated by Ministers not explaining who missed out and why:
“We need an answer. If they want to make a decision, have the guts to stand up and tell the people why you’ve made it, because this business of hiding behind cabinet documents and behind closed doors is rubbish.”
Regional Queensland’s LNP MPs and Michael McCormack owe it to these groups to come clean and say why they were ripped off, in favour of Ministers’ handpicked projects.
Yesterday Michael McCormack said critics were “cherry picking” from the report. No-one is “cherry picking”, Deputy Prime Minister. The whole report is scathing of your Government.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack sat on both Ministerial Panels responsible for awarding over $220.5 million in grants, that the Audit Office found:
- Approved an ineligible application for funding.
- Approved five late applications for funding, with no exemption reasons recorded.
- Failed to verify claims around ongoing jobs created by each proposed grant.
- Did not re-score or provide reasons when rejecting 28 percent of applications recommended by the Department.
- Approved 17 percent of applications not recommended by the Department without adequate reasons.
- Failed to appropriately consider co-funding exemptions, awarding four applications a total of $1.74 million without any private co-investment.
- Increasingly overturned decisions over time.
- Did not consistently apply the eligibility requirements relating to the content of applications.
- Did not manage conflict of interest to a consistently appropriate standard.
- Did not soundly assess applications in accordance with the program guidelines.
Given the inadequate responses from the Morrison Government, Labor will begin to pursue these LNP regional rorts through the Parliament.