Once again, the Morrison Government has put its political interests ahead of regional communities with 112 of 330 projects approved under round three of the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) by a secret ministerial panel and against his Department’s recommendations.
Unsurprisingly, this is the same round announced in the run up to the 2019 Federal Election that saw Coalition seats or Coalition target seats receive 94 per cent of projects and 94 per cent of funds through the infrastructure component of the BBRF.
The following “drought-round” round was little better, with forty-nine out of the 163 projects approved for funding despite not being recommended by the Minister’s Department.
Under these two rounds of the BBRF, 161 communities missed out on projects that were chosen by the Department but rejected by the Deputy Prime Minister and a secret ministerial panel without explanation.
Regional communities used to call the Building Better Regions Fund “a lottery”. At least a lottery would give every regional community an equal shot at receiving a grant.
Independent grant processes are designed to support communities based on need and guarantee confidence in public administration. By handpicking winners based on politics, the Deputy Prime Minister has undermined both principles.
The Deputy Prime Minister needs to identify the recommended projects that he rejected and explain his reasons. If he can’t explain, he should apologise to those communities which sunk valuable time and money into applications that never stood a chance.
Regional Australians deserve better than dodgy schemes delivered by a Government that is on nobody’s side but its own.