NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has admitted handing $252 million in controversial grants to coalition-held seats in the lead up to the 2019 state election amounts to pork barrelling.
Gladys Berejiklian said grants went to 95 per cent Coalition-held seats, because “there are more Coalition seats than any other.”
The Coalition holds 48 seats out of 93, which nearly half, not 95%.
She insisted in her address to the media that using taxpayer money to help the Coalition win seats was not an issue.
“Governments in all positions make commitments to the community in order to curry favour. I think that’s part of the political process whether we like it or not,” she said.
“The term pork barrelling is common parlance … and it’s not something that I know that the community is comfortable with and if that’s the accusation made on this occasion … well then I’m happy to accept that commentary.”
“It’s not an illegal practice. Unfortunately it does happen from time to time by every government. I don’t know any political party that at some stage hasn’t made commitments to the electorate,” she said.
“That is what our process rightly or wrongly is part of … it’s not, unfortunately, unique or uncommon to my government.”
She lied about privatising assets.
She lied about her knowledge of Daryl Maguire’s dodgy dealings.
She shredded the government documents that showed her wrongdoing.
She lied about her Covid test.
What else is she hiding?
— NSW Labor (@NSWLabor) November 27, 2020
According to the Premier ‘pork barrelling’ and using taxpayers’ money to ‘curry favour’ to win an election is normal. Just to be clear – it’s NOT NORMAL
— Jodi McKay (@JodiMcKayMP) November 26, 2020
Sarah Lau, one of Ms Berejiklian’s senior policy officers, told a NSW parliamentary inquiry in October that documents detailing grants were shredded and electronic copies deleted.
Six grants were awarded to projects in the electorate of Wagga Wagga in 2017 when the Premier was in a relationship with the then Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire who admitted to an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) inquiry that he used his parliament house office for private business and received “thousands of dollars of cash” for “a scheme involving the obtaining of Australian visas for Chinese nationals”.
This is shocking. The Government has just voted down an additional $7.3 million funding for ICAC.
— Jodi McKay (@JodiMcKayMP) November 27, 2020
Late October, NSW Labor announced it asked the Information and Privacy Commission and the Police Commissioner to launch an investigation into the shredding of documents detailing $252 million in grants allocated to councils prior to last year’s state election.
95% of these funds went to Coalition-held seats. Evidence of the Premier’s involvement in the approval process was shredded and deleted from a computer by a senior staffer.
— Jodi McKay (@JodiMcKayMP) October 27, 2020
The push came after former NSW auditor-general Tony Harris said shredding documents was likely unlawful.
“The role that the Premier’s office had in the shredding of documents is good reason for her departure, she should resign,” News quoted Tony Harris as saying.
“When you package everything up together, it’s time for her to go”, he said.
Berejiklian hit back at the former auditor-general at the Today show saying: “With all due respect Mr Harris hasn’t been auditor-general for more than 30 years,”.