Media Release - 22 September 2020
With the unfolding State Government council grants scandal being examined by a Parliamentary Committee, locally communities are focussed on ensuring that councils get a fair share. It starts by ensuring the Government can’t pick and choose when local MPs sit on assessment panels, and exclude non-Government MPs.
However the current Government policy is that the local MP is excluded from the process if that local MP was a non-Government MP, thereby intentionally excluding local expertise to guide the allocation of grants.
The data shows that where they did ship in a government MP that they were of no special assistance to the local community. In fact where the local Government MP was included the councils obtained around $150 per resident but when they parachuted in a non-local Government MP the funding slid to $56 per resident on average.
Greens MP for Ballina Tamara Smith said:
“Excluding local MPs based on their political colours is completely inappropriate and makes a mockery of the system’s claim to rely on local knowledge.
“If local MPs are involved for their expertise and knowledge of the needs of the local community, then it shouldn’t matter what party they belong to,” Ms Smith said.
Greens MP and Local Government Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“The data shows these grants were decided and allocated by local MPs not because of their deep local knowledge, but to help win seats in the election.
“These schemes are paid for with public money, and shouldn’t be used to bribe local residents to vote a certain way.
“Of course councils in regions that have benefited from the skewed funding allocations support the speed and flexibility of ministerial discretion.
“ICAC has warned against the involvement of MPs in allocating public money and this scheme exemplifies exactly why,” Mr Shoebridge said.