NSW to review how subsidies are distributed amid concerns about pork

Ms Berejiklian said grants awarded through the program went to most coalition seats because she said, “guess what? There are more coalition seats than anyone else.”

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The former prime minister said voters may not be familiar with the pork barrel, but all governments used it “from time to time”.

Ms Berejiklian held on to her views as she faced the Independent Commission against Corruption, admitting on Monday that the allocation of public money to specific voters was often done to “cure the favor” of voters in order to win elections.

“Ultimately, whether we like it or not, it’s democracy,” she told the ICAC.

But Mr Perrottet said he had never shared Mrs Berejiklian’s position on the pork barrel.

“No matter what community you are in, you should have access to the best healthcare, the best education, the best public transportation,” Perrottet said earlier this week.

The upper house’s parliamentary inquiry into state subsidies, led by Green MP David Shoebridge, found that “not only is the large selection of subsidy programs wasteful and ineffective, but subsidy programs are also currently open to abuse”.

“Assessment processes and the minister’s discretionary role in decisions lack transparency. Government MPs have input into identifying and even assessing projects, while non-state MPs are often excluded,” the committee report presented in March.

“The committee came to the conclusion that the current appropriation system is broken and needs a fundamental revision.”

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One of the appropriations used as a “case study” in Mrs Berejiklian’s ICAC inquiry was $ 5.5 million for the Australian Clay Target Association in Wagga Wagga, the electorate of Mrs Berejiklian’s then girlfriend, former MP Daryl Maguire.

Several bureaucrats had serious concerns about the grant, ICAC heard, with one of them describing the business case, which justified the money as “spinning” and “deficient”. It was eventually funded after being ticked off by a subcommittee of the Cabinet chaired by Mrs Berejiklian.

Sir. Perrottet said “transparency and accountability” were crucial in the allocation of public funds.

“We are committed to providing value for money when it comes to appropriations; this review of processes will ensure that this happens,” he said.

Sir. Perrottet said taxpayers would “expect us to review these processes from time to time, and that is what we do”.

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“The audit will study best practices in other jurisdictions and provide assurance that we meet the highest standards in our processes and approach,” he said.

Treasurer Matt Kean said the review would ensure the government has “strict and robust processes in place to give society confidence”.

“The public expects us to deliver value for money and to invest in things that improve our quality of life, our productivity and set our state up for the future,” he said.

An updated guide and any recommendations will be submitted to Mr Perrottet in April and will include consultation across the public sector, including a working group composed of representatives from the central agencies managing grants.

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