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TravelGuides – Senate estimates to grill officials over $660m Coalition car park fund | Australian politics

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JourneyGuides – Senate estimates to grill officials over $660m Coalition car park fund | Australian politics

Officials from the infrastructure division can be grilled by a Senate committee a few car park fund that doled out $660m to tasks recognized by Coalition MPs and candidates.

On Thursday a request by two Labor senators and Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson to the chair of the Senate rural and regional affairs and transport committee triggered a spillover estimates session to inquire into the fund.

In a scathing report, launched on Monday, the Australian National Audit Office discovered that not one of many 47 tasks was chosen by the division and car park websites had been as an alternative chosen by way of a course of that “was not demonstrably merit-based”.

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It discovered 87% of the tasks had been positioned in 23 Coalition-held seats or six goal seats the place Coalition MPs and candidates had been consulted about undertaking choice.

Labor will use the estimates committee to study undertaking spreadsheets referred to within the ANAO report. The audit discovered the workplace of the then-city infrastructure minister, Alan Tudge, requested to add potential tasks and a column to the spreadsheets for the federal government to set their relative precedence.

“The minister’s office advised that it would then go through the spreadsheets with the prime minister’s office and the deputy prime minister’s office, ahead of a related meeting between the minister for urban infrastructure and the prime minister,” the ANAO mentioned in its report.

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The shadow city infrastructure minister, Andrew Giles, mentioned the “major scandal” of the commuter car park program had “failed both in terms of good governance and project planning, leading to ineligible projects being funded, massive cost blow outs and ongoing delays in delivery”.

“Most seriously, we learned the lengths the Morrison government went to in the political targeting of projects, with secret spreadsheets shared between the then-minister Tudge and the prime minister’s office and prime ministerial meetings held to determine which projects to fund,” he mentioned.

“Just like sports rorts, this scandal goes right to the top … It goes right to the heart of this government.”

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The ANAO report discovered two tasks had been cancelled in December 2019 simply months after they had been introduced. Another undertaking was later discovered to be ineligible and 4 had been cancelled in May 2021.

About 11 tasks price $175m have had no evaluation work – that means “a project proposal had not yet been received from the identified proponent”, the report mentioned.

Labor MPs have complained that tasks such because the $15m Balaclava station car park in Melbourne had been doomed to failure by a scarcity of due diligence. In that case, the land recognized for the undertaking had already been dedicated to public housing.

On Thursday Guardian Australia revealed particulars of two tasks – in Gosford, New South Wales, and Mitcham in South Australia – that the ANAO discovered had been chosen for federal funding with no authorisation evident past a press launch from Scott Morrison.

The assistant treasurer, Michael Sukkar, has tried to shift blame for the cancelled $15m Mitcham car park on to the Victorian authorities, which has labelled his declare that it had been unable to construct it as “completely false”.

The city infrastructure minister, Paul Fletcher, who took carriage of this system in December 2020, has defended this system, writing to the ANAO that two-thirds of the tasks had been introduced in the course of the election marketing campaign and the Coalition had been “elected to deliver them”.

“The remainder were decisions of cabinet, as has been standard practice for major transport infrastructure decisions under successive governments,” he mentioned.

Giles mentioned that whereas Fletcher “sees nothing wrong with the grants, minister Tudge and the prime minister have gone into hiding, failing to answer any questions on the scandal”.

“Australians deserve answers, but the Morrison government has gone to ground.”

The committee chair, Susan McDonald, rebuked Labor for airing its plans within the media.

“It is a long-standing convention that matters and business of committees are not discussed publicly, McDonald told Guardian Australia.

“Given that the media has received the application before I had, then this will be a matter that is also considered at the next private meeting of the committee.”

The Senate estimates listening to will query ANAO officials, however can not compel Morrison, McCormack, Fletcher and Tudge, to seem as all of them sit within the decrease home.

JourneyGuides – Senate estimates to grill officials over $660m Coalition car park fund | Australian politics

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