Media Release by Hon Kevin Andrews MP

Committee Confirms Labor Pork Barrelling

Minister for Social Services Kevin Andrews says more evidence has emerged showing Labor’s failed $100 million Building Better Regional Communities program (BBRC) was nothing more than a pork barrelling exercise.

Mr Andrews said despite a target of 8000 new homes, fewer than 250 dwellings have been built under BBRC to date.

“This program was nothing more than a pork barrelling exercise as 80 per cent of the non-recommended projects were Labor or Labor-aligned electorates approved by the then Minister, Brendan O’Connor,” Mr Andrews said.

“Two of the electorates concerned were New England and Dobell, held by former Independent Tony Windsor and Labor MP Craig Thomson.

“A report by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) into the BBRC constitutes a savage indictment of a program that was the essence of incompetence and partisan pork barrelling.

“The former Minister cherry picked programs that fitted in with his political agenda, with complete disregard for the advice of his department which said that most applications were lacking in merit or did not provide value for money.

“These grants were not even reported to the Finance Minister as required and were just swept under the carpet with no accountability.

“The objectives of this program were to invest in local infrastructure to support an increase in affordable housing but instead Labor used the money to pork barrel its own electorates.”

Parliament’s Joint Committee on Public Accounts and Audit today heard the ANAO found Minister O’Connor used “unpublished eligibility criteria” to make decisions.