Cabinet Minister Alan Tudge’s office kept a âTop 20 Marginsâ tracking sheet for allocating projects from a $ 660 million suburban parking fund to fringe seats the Coalition wanted to keep or win. in the 2019 election, the auditor general said.
- 47 car parks were funded as part of a $ 660 million project deemed “ineffective” and not based on merit
- Listeners told a Senate committee that the parking projects were chosen by coalition MPs and candidates from fringe electorates
- The office of then Minister of Urban Infrastructure, Alan Tudge, kept a ‘top 20’ spreadsheet to track projects while soliciting MPs
Last month, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) found that a $ 660 million fund to build 47 suburban parking lots was not “merit-based”, and none of the approved parking lots had been approved. proposed by the Ministry of Infrastructure.
“The distribution of the selected projects reflected the geographic and political profile of those to whom the government had given the opportunity to identify candidates for funding,” said Auditor General Grant Hehir.
ANAO auditor Brian Boyd told a Senate committee today that projects were identified by soliciting coalition MPs and candidates from late 2018 to April 2019, something managed by the office of the Minister of Urban Infrastructure at the time, Alan Tudge.
“He started to be called a ‘top 20 marginal’ … to hit the grass roots with the top 20 dropouts [representatives] – either the member of the Chamber of Representatives, the permanent senator, or [their offices] – ask them what projects in your electorate deserve to go through this program? “, declared Mr. Boyd.
He said Coalition candidates occupying marginal seats identified by the Coalition were also invited to submit possible parking projects.
“In some cases, the evidence shows that the local member or senator on duty was in fact engaging with the [Prime Minister’s Office], who would then forward it to the minister’s office, âBoyd said.
47 car parks identified by the deputies and candidates of the Coalition
Ultimately, 29 coalition-owned or fringe electorates were polled through what Boyd called Minister Tudge’s office a âto-do listâ of parking proposals.
Mr. Boyd noted that unlike the Sports Grants Program, which used a color-coded spreadsheet to highlight partisan affiliations of public grant application locations, the parking program was not a public process.
He said the Ministry of Infrastructure, not a minister’s office, advised against an open and competitive process.
Deputy Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure David Hallinan told the committee he recommended a process in which submissions for possible parking sites would be made and then evaluated by the ministry, but ultimately he It was decided through the Cabinet process that the government would select the projects.
Thirty-eight of the car parks were determined “by the written agreement of the Prime Minister at a written request from the ministers” and seven others announced as electoral commitments, found the ANAO.
“The Prime Minister would eventually write to Minister Tudge, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance or Treasurer saying, ‘I agreed to these projects being included’, but he did so on the basis of having received letters from [ministers]”Mr. Boyd said.
He said there was no evidence Prime Minister Scott Morrison was personally involved in soliciting parking proposals.
ANAO confirmed to the committee that the entire $ 4.8 billion Urban Congestion Fund, in which the parking fund is located, lacks transparency and competitiveness.