13 May 2022
Independent Senator Rex Patrick today highlighted the extent to which South Australia is harmed by the political pork barrel war being waged by the Coalition Government and Labor Opposition.
“Pork barrelling of government grants, projects and programs to marginal electorates is a form of political corruption that skews the distribution of public funds according to political need rather than the needs of communities. This directly disadvantages South Australia as public resources are disproportionately poured into marginal electorates in the big states – New South Wales, Queensland and elsewhere.”
“It is all too clear that Prime Minister Scott Morison only sees public policy through the lens of political gain. To all intents and purposes, he treats the Federal Treasury as the Coalition’s private re-election fund.”
According to the exhaustive tabulation of electorate-specific election announcements and commitments compiled by The Guardian newspaper, the Coalition has targeted marginal seats with nearly $3 billion of spending promises and many hundreds of millions more are being thrown at supposedly ‘safe’ seats that are now hotly contested.
Election promises directed to the top ten electorates in the Coalition’s pork barrel list total more than $3.8 billion - an average of $380 million per seat.
“In comparison, the Coalition has only pledged some $221 million across all ten South Australian federal electorates. More than half of that, $125 million, has been allocated to one electorate, Mayo. The largest and most economically and social disadvantaged electorate in the state, Grey, has been promised a very modest $14.6 million. Two SA electorates, Hindmarsh and Spence have missed out entirely.”
Labor has also targeted close to $1 billion at marginal electorates across the country, but only $78.7 million across SA electorates. Labor has promised nothing specific to five SA electorates – Mayo, Makin, Barker, Adelaide, and Spence.
Senator Patrick said: “This malapportionment of public resources directly harms South Australia which, owing to relative population decline, a reduction in the number of South Australian federal electorates and few marginal seats, barely features in the huge spray of taxpayers’ cash orchestrated by Coalition and to a lesser extent by Labor.”
“Whatever was you look at it, South Australia is a loser when the distribution of public resources is determined by crude political calculation.”
“Pork barrelling is a form of political corruption that directly harms our state and our communities. South Australia would get a much better deal if public resources were allocated according to merit and need, through transparent and accountable processes, and not directed according to perceived electoral advantage.”
“We need to fix this, regardless of whether it is the Coalition or Labor that forms the next government.”
“If re-elected I’ll be working to achieve much greater transparency and accountability in relation to the award of government grants and for the disclosure of Budget decisions that have not been announced prior to the election period, thereby inhibiting governments from dishing out funds from an election pork barrel during the political campaign.”
“This is another part of a wider campaign to fix Australia’s broken and increasingly corrupted politics; especially through the establishment of a Federal anti-corruption commission, parliamentary reform and greater transparency measures relating to political donations.”
“Comprehensive integrity and transparency measures must be an absolute priority for the next Parliament. I plan to press hard on all fronts as soon as the Senate convenes after the election.”