Bushfire recovery funds in much of Eden-Monaro have lagged disturbingly as federal local representative Kristy McBain has explained on this website and elsewhere. Not to mention the lack of adequate funding for recovery of the natural environment and wildlife. Here Elizabeth Minter for Michael West Media unpacks the political party favouritism at federal and state levels that has dominated the distribution of federal disaster bushfire recovery funds, with National Party electorates (notably Wagga Wagga federally) that have greatly benefited to the detriment of other regions.
THE NSW PORK Barrelling Inquiry will be expanded to hear claims that bushfire funding has been diverted to Coalition political mates and even the business projects of billionaire Anthony Pratt. The move follows an investigation by Elizabeth Minter into a $177 million bushfire recovery scheme which only a handful of Coalition figures and the MP for Wagga Wagga seem to have had heard about.
The misuse of public money has reached such blatant proportions that even grants for bushfire relief and recovery for local communities are now being deployed for political purposes, to buy votes.
Following an investigation by Michael West Media into the secretive allocations of bushfire money to companies associated with prolific Coalition donor Anthony Pratt ($1.5m last year) — and to Coalition seats — a NSW Upper House inquiry into grants rorting has been extended.
Almost a quarter of the funds, more than $40 million, went the way of Wagga Wagga, whose state seat lies in the middle of Nationals MP and Deputy PM Michael McCormack’s seat.
Part of the Wagga Wagga electorate, the Snowy Valleys Shire, is also in the Labor-held federal electorate of Eden-Monaro.
By Elizabeth Minter, Michael West Media
IMAGE: District Bulletin resources