Yesterday we learnt that the Building Better Regions Fund disproportionately favoured Coalition-held seats and today we found out why – projects were chosen according to secret, colour-coded spreadsheets.
Speaking to Flow FM, a radio station based in Kapunda, SA, Member for Mallee, Anne Webster, spectacularly belled the cat, telling listeners that Coalition MPs had the opportunity to lobby for projects on this secret, colour-coded spreadsheet that did not fully meet the funding criteria.
HOST: Now the fund, you say it was more than five times oversubscribed this time around. What are the processes for determining which projects get these grants like the ones you’ve listed? How does the How does the government firewall itself against the claim it’s a pork barrelling fund? How is it assessed?
WEBSTER: Yeah, look, it’s a very good question and people certainly have a right to know. The government actually gets very little say. So, the Department of infrastructure goes through every project application, they make a list and they do colour code them in green and pink. Green is for projects that actually tick off on the criteria for the fund and pink, they don’t quite. But if an MP wants to really push the project because it’s important for the community, then you’ve got the opportunity to do that. And then there are those, of course, that don’t meet the criteria at all, for whatever reason, or certainly not a percentage of it. I had no pink projects, so only green ones that actually made it into the criteria and ticked off.
HOST: So, you were tickled pink then?
WEBSTER: Tickled green as the case may be.
This is an absolute scandal.
Coalition MPs were given the opportunity to lobby for projects that did not fully meet the eligibility criteria, while other parts of the country were left in the dark.
This is supposed to be an independent grants program, but instead we find that Barnaby Joyce and his Nationals mates have their fingerprints all over it.
How many “green” projects were denied funding because they did not suit the coalition’s political interests?
Were Coalition candidates also given the opportunity to lobby for projects?
Scott Morrison and Barnaby Joyce need to immediately release these secret, colour-coded spreadsheets and apologise to the communities that they have dudded through this dodgy grants program.
Councils used to call the Building Better Regions Fund a lottery, but now we know that it is nothing more than another taxpayer fund shamelessly hijacked by Barnaby Joyce.