The government’s misuse of $400 million of public funds will be examined further during a Parliament of NSW Upper House inquiry on Friday, October 16, 2020.
Of particular interest will be the number of Stronger Country Communities Fund (SCCF) grants approved by the government in the electorate of Cootamundra.
In total about 180 grants totalling almost $42 million were awarded to projects located in the Cootamundra electorate.
About 100 of those – totalling around $23 million – were awarded in round two and were announced just months prior to the 2019 election.
The rest was distributed in rounds one and three.
The electorate of Cootamundra received more grants than the total number allocated to projects located in Labor, the Greens and Shooters and Fishers electorates.
Day one of the Upper House Inquiry into the Integrity, Efficacy and Value for Money of NSW Government Grant Programs was held last month and further exposed the government’s deliberate and systematic abuse of state government grant programs.
Shadow Minister for Local Government, Greg Warren, said the number of grants given to projects in the Cootamundra electorate was nothing but a blatant attempt to buy the seat.
“A number of communities in the Cootamundra electorate have felt the dire impacts of the government’s forced mergers policy and are understandably frustrated and bitter towards the unstable Berejiklian-Barilaro Government,” he said.
“That was reflected in the 2017 Cootamundra by-election, when a large swing against the Nationals was recorded.
“This did not go unnoticed by the government and that’s why they blatantly attempted to buy votes in the at risk electorate.
“The $400 million Stronger Country Communities Fund was designed to help improve the quality of life for residents in rural and regional communities throughout the entire state of NSW.
“But ultimately it was used as a Liberal-National taxpayer-funded slush fund designed to buy votes for the Liberals and Nationals.
“It was also revealed that $20 million was actually spent on administration costs – not the communities the funds should have actually benefited.
“The government has a responsibility to ensure public funds are spent fairly and appropriately and this did not happen in relation to the SCCF.
“Day two of the Upper House inquiry this Friday will no doubt further expose the government’s misuse of public funds.”