Labor leader Anthony Albanese stopped calling the policy a “bribe” but said it was a “cynical ploy before an election” rather than building the country.
Targeted spending programs were an important part of the coalition’s campaign in the last election, using local area spending pledges to give Mr Morrison and the party’s candidates a positive announcement to voters.
The government programs, funded from the budget in the days before the campaign began, included sports facilities, swimming pools, locker rooms, parking lots and security for religious centers.
Victorian Supreme Court Justice David Harper, QC, concluded that the misuse of public funds in the parking spending program was a form of corruption in light of findings by the Australian National Audit Office on spending in liberal and fringe seats.
“The commuter car park program certainly appears to be a case where taxpayers’ money is being spent, not after an assessment of the greatest need, but rather with a view to furthering the government’s interests,” it said. he. The Sydney Morning Herald and The age.
While the Court of Auditors singled out the sports fairs and car parks for heavy criticism, an investigation by the Herald and The age has identified broader problems with subsidy schemes for several years.
But Labor has targeted fringe voters with its recent pledges, and 64 percent of the projects announced in its $200 million community battery program have been in Labor seats.
Morrison could call the election anytime in the coming days, but he told radio station 6PR Wednesday night that he would not call it this Sunday. He waited nine days after the federal budget on April 2, 2019, before asking the governor general to dissolve parliament on April 11 for elections on May 18.
Some of the biggest new fiscal measures are aimed at regional Australia at a time when the government is trying to win marginal seats in Queensland and is eyeing the outback seat of Lingiari, which covers the entire Northern Territory except central Darwin.
The Regional Accelerator Program will spend $2 billion over five years on projects in yet-to-be-disclosed locations supporting a wide variety of activities, including manufacturing, infrastructure, skills, training, research, development and education.
An additional $2 billion will be allocated to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to support major projects outside the southeastern states, expanding its geographic location to include the Indian Ocean territories of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands for projects yet to be completed. revealed.
The $7.1 billion energy security and regional development plan will be spread over more than a decade, but $1.4 billion of the total is earmarked to spend the next four years on projects in the NT, North and Central -Queensland, the Pilbara region of Western Australia and the Hunter region of NSW.
These could include voters like Lingiari, as well as Flynn’s highly controversial seat around the Queensland town of Gladstone, as well as seats in the Hunter Valley, where the government has claimed Labor is vulnerable.
Energy Secretary Angus Taylor said on budget evening the policy would spend $300 million on LNG and hydrogen production in Darwin and related projects, $200 million on supply chain projects in the Pilbara region and $100 million on the Port of Newcastle to be ready to export hydrogen.
Joyce listed 20 investment plans for the $7.1 billion policy, including those mentioned by Mr. Taylor, but the funding leaves room for more detailed commitments.
“By turbocharging these regional economies, people can get the jobs they want and chase their dreams,” Joyce said.
Some of the money is intended to be distributed evenly across all parts of Australia, with the money for local roads and community infrastructure going to each municipality. The modern manufacturing strategy will take competing grant funding applications, making it difficult to commit funds before that process.
But many of the fiscal measures don’t detail the final destination of the funding, as they may require applications for grants or the promise of specific funding during the campaign.
The government’s childcare policy includes a $19.4 million Community Child Care Fund to support new childcare centers in regional areas, while the water policy for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan includes $97 million for “community-driven infrastructure projects” over two years. year.
The budget includes $20.3 million over three years for grants to tree-planting groups to mark Queen Elizabeth’s jubilee.
“The Court of Audit has identified problems with 100 percent of the subsidy programs examined. This is a systematic misuse of government money,” said Han Aulby, the executive director of the Center for Public Integrity.
“In an election year, when more money is being invested in subsidy programs, we need to control government spending more closely. Otherwise we will see more pork wasted and more government money wasted,” they said.
“Necessary safeguards include making the grant criteria public, regular reporting against those criteria, increased parliamentary scrutiny and stronger enforcement of the rules.”
Jacqueline Maley breaks through the hubbub of the federal election campaign with news, views and expert analysis. Sign to our Australia Votes 2022 newsletter here.