The Morrison Government has defended a $300 milion grants program that put 88 per cent of money into seats the Coalition holds or wants to win.
The Morrison government has defended a $300 million grants program that put 88 per cent of money into seats the Coalition holds or wants to win.
Labor accused the Coalition of "another round of regional rorts" over round five of the Building Better Regions Fund.
Analysis shows 72 per cent of the $300 million went towards Liberal and National Party electorates, another 16 per cent went to marginal electorates or target seats.
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The Auditor-General is examining the $1.3 billion program, which last year 9News revealed awarded 94 per cent of grants to projects in Coalition or marginal seats.
The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) is expected to report back in May next year.
The Labor Party analysed the 298 projects which were announced last week as recipients of the fund.
"Regions across Australia have projects that are worthy of funding, but Barnaby Joyce and Scott Morrison can only see those in Coalition seats," Shadow Infrastructure Minister Catherine King said.
"The only thing this government cares about is diverting funds for their own electoral purposes, they couldn't care less about building a better Australia or developing all regions."
The fund - which the government's website claims "supports the Australian Government's commitment to create jobs, drive economic growth and build stronger regional communities into the future" – offers money for local infrastructure and tourism projects.
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Last week, 298 projects were announced as receiving funding, including a $5 million grant awarded to the Liverpool Shire Council in the electorate of Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce "to improve water availability, quality and security to Quirindi, Werris Creek and Willow Tree".
Mr Joyce announced the funding commitment while in the area on Friday.
"It shows that even in my ministerial role I want to not only provide money for building better regions but actually build the better regions," he said.
Organisations have to apply through the Department of Infrastructure.
Program guidelines published online show the department assesses applications, makes recommendations, then hands them on to a panel of Ministers chaired by Mr Joyce.
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The panel then decides which applications are approved for grants.
Labor is accusing the Morrison government of favouring its own seats.
"Councils, businesses and communities across regional Australia are fed up with opaque funding programs where what matters is who your local member is, not the strength of your project proposal," Ms King said.
The government has defended the funding and says the Ministerial Panel did not select any projects for funding against the recommendations of the Department.
A spokesperson for Mr Joyce told 9News that "all projects were assessed against publicly available guidelines as eligible and providing value for money".
"The Liberal and Nationals Government is delivering for regional Australia and that's what we'll continue to do," the spokesperson said.
The office of the Auditor-General will examine if the program was well designed, whether appropriate funding recommendations were provided, whether funding was informed by advice, and if it was consistent with program objectives and grant opportunity guidelines.
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/federal-politics-building-better-regions-fund-accused-of-favouring-marginal-seats/600145de-3e16-4f49-9967-e6baa95a018b