The New South Wales Prime Minister denies that she approved grants for coalition seats ahead of the last state elections

The Prime Minister of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, has admitted that grants of 140 million However, USD to councils approved in the nine months leading up to the last state elections were equivalent to pork kegs, but said there was nothing illegal about it

“It’s not something the community likes but it’s an accusation I’ll carry,” she said. It doesn’t just apply to our government, “Berejiklian said

“It’s not an illegal practice. Unfortunately, it happens from time to time by every government,” she said

Labor and the Greens seized documents that were forensically recovered from databases They claim that Berejiklian was directly involved in the approval process. Berejiklian denies having been involved in the approval

“I was consulted and advised, as were other ministers. But the local government office was responsible for getting the dollars to the councils,” said Berejiklian

The grant from the Fund for Stronger Communities of 252 million USD went mostly to coalition seats, and documents show that only coalition MPs were consulted

An undated, unsigned memo, prepared for premiere by staff member Sarah Lau and restored by computer experts, lists seven projects, all of which sit on coalition seats.They have been recommended by coalition MPs

“The PLO team (parliamentary liaison officer) has consulted with local members and compiled the list of open space projects in Table 1 for approval,” says the memo

Your signature is not in this restored version, but it raises additional questions about the process of taxpayers’ money of $ 252 million USD will be allocated. Paper copies of the document have been shredded

When asked about the use of the word “approved” in the memo, the prime minister said, “What language people use is for them, but they seemed to recognize that the scheme had been used to capture pork in coalition seats

She said the notes were job advice and her office has now sought advice from the Archives Office on whether to keep them, Berjiklian said the policy changes had gone through all appropriate processes, including the review committee of expenses

Berejiklian previously told the media that it did not approve the grants and denied that the program was used as a political slush fund to improve coalition MPs’ chances of re-election

This is the prime minister who says pork kegs are okay, this is the custom in her government It’s not okay It’s never okay It shouldn’t be common in her or others’ government #nswpol picTwittercom / f4ccCzCdLS

More than 250 million USD were earmarked to help the councils with the costs of the merger When the unpopular policy was abandoned in 2017, the funds were used for the “Stronger Communities” program

Many labor councils were unaware of the fund and its application, and there appear to have been no published guidelines

When the smaller parties in the House of Lords and Labor asked the government to produce the documentation for the program, they only received a handful of emails listing successful projects
Berejiklian officials told a parliamentary inquiry that they had destroyed working papers and documents detailing who approved the expenditure and why

“We are finally seeing the truth,” said Green MP David Shoebridge. “This year the prime minister has ducked and weaved”

Labor’s John Graham said it was now clear why the documents were destroyed, but there were still critical questions about the process

The grant program has been forwarded to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the NSW Auditor General and the Information Commissioner for Lack of Process and Record

Shoebridge accused the government of running a “backward process” of designing guidelines to fund selected projects. He said this was in direct contradiction to the Icac grant guidelines, which require governments to create transparent guidelines should before submitting applications

In the restored memo, after listing the projects, the Prime Minister is informed: “In order for these funds to go out, you must approve two updated funding guidelines”

Another memo shows that after the government abandoned its policy of amalgamating councils, it agreed to change the policy to allow non-amalgamated councils to receive grants

One council, Hornsby, received $ 90 million in a seat of Environment Secretary Matt Kean despite not merging the new documents were presented to the Prime Minister for approval

A recently restored memo shows that the Hornsby Council sought $ 279 million and the general manager had met the Prime Minister and Kean staff

The memo to the Prime Minister states that there is no other obvious source of funding for the projects than the 160 million USD earmarked for the merger funds

“This package would be larger than our entire Open Space Package and we would be spending more on supplying sports fields and facilities in Hornsby than we plan for the rest of Sydney over the next four years,” it said in the memo

The Inner West Council has requested the Ministry’s Secretary to the Prime Minister and Cabinet for an independent forensic review of the Ministry’s records

Pork barrel

World News – AU – Berejiklian admits that a grant program of 140 million USD pork kegs, but says it’s not just for our government

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/nov/26/berejiklian-admits-140m-grant-scheme-was-pork-barrelling-as-approval-documents-revealed