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Oink Oink !

Pork-barrelling is a metaphor for vote buying in particular electorates to secure votes, normally for the incumbent politician. It involves appropriating public funds – that’s important, you never use your own money or that of your party – prior to an election and applying them to normally worthy causes but with the prime purpose being to secure votes. It goes on in almost every democracy and can involve roads and bridges to nowhere or, literally in PNG, distributing pigs to remote villages in return for votes.

The Energy Assistance Payment announced by Josh Frydenberg last week is a classic case of pork-barrelling. The one-off payments of $75 for singles and $125 for couples will go to 2.4 million pensioners, 744,000 disability pensioners, 280,000 carers, 242,000 single parents and 225,000 veterans and their dependants (and belatedly to those on Newstart). It is supposed to convey to the section of the electorate who receive this largesse that the coalition has an energy policy and that they are thinking of you : in reality they don’t and they are not.

The so called Community Environment Program is another example but it is a little more tricky as it doesn’t actually exist yet. As the Department of Environment assistant secretary Steve Costello, noted at Senate Estimates last week : the proposed program “is not open for applications, there is no successful grant under that program because the money is not appropriated, there has been no application process.”

So that’s fairly straight forward isn’t it ? There evidently will be a Community Environment Program but it won’t be open for applications until the new financial year and the grants will not be announced until September and to run its course, the coalition have to be re-elected and the recipients selected.

So why in March was Chris Crewther Liberal member for the seat of Dunkley (held by a margin of 1.4 per cent) along with hapless Environment Minister Melissa Price award almost $40,000 of non-existent environment grants to community groups in Crewther’s marginal Victorian seat ? Well, the answer to that lies in the words : marginal seat .

In several social media posts last month, Crewther, announced grants of between $7,500 and $20,000 under this Community Environment Program and he included video coverage of himself and Minister Price shaking hands with all and sundry to congratulate them on their successful grant applications : the posts have now been deleted.

When quizzed about this in parliament Minister Price said that “if you’re going to pork-barrel in an electorate you need to do it before the election not after it, you effing idiot.”

Well, that’s not precisely what she said but it’s what she meant. What she actually said was that the government had not announced any money and the trip with Crewther related to “expressions of interest” for the program and he had invited her “to speak to a number of really good local community environment projects.” At which point she had to hastily leave the parliamentary chamber as her pants spontaneously combusted.

But Labor’s environment spokesman, Tony Burke, then read from a media release issued by Crewther on March 15, which quoted the minister and announced funding to four community groups in Dunkley including video clips featuring himself and the minister with announcements of $10,000 in Frankston, $7,500 in Boggy Creek and $10,000 at Downs Estate.

“If no announcements under the program had been made, why does the minister appear with quotes in the media release and each of these announcements is accompanied by a video with the minister present. How can it be that she claims none of it ever happened when she’s quoted in the media release and is personally in the video?” Mr Burke asked.”

This important question was left hanging, as our accidental prime minister advised the speaker that this seemed to be a good time to wind up Question Time and the forty-fifth parliament.

Whatever it takes !

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  1. Kaye Lee

    Remember George Christensen before last election promised to make a donation to a turtle rescue group IF he got re-elected.

    “That’s why last night I was happy to announce a $12,000 personal contribution in 2016/17 to Libby’s operations if I’m re-elected as the Member for Dawson.”

    He was referred to the AEC for electoral bribery.

    Then there is Brookvale Oval, where Abbott holds the number 1 members ticket.

    August 18, 2013: Coalition pledges $10 million to Brookvale Oval upgrade

    June 28, 2016: DREAMS of a world-class facility at Brookvale Oval could be within reach for Sea Eagles fans, with an extra $2.5 million pledged by Warringah MP Tony Abbott. The former prime minister will formally announce the election promise on Tuesday afternoon, bringing the Federal Government contribution to $12.5 million.

    February 8, 2019: Manly’s Brookvale Oval will receive a $36.1 million facelift including a 3000-seat grandstand and centre of excellence after securing a NSW government grant. The Gladys Berejiklian government on Friday promised $20 million for the project.

    The list is endless…..

  2. Alcibiades

    Personally, pork-barrelling of the COALition kind, in my view, is likely only going to lose them more votes, overrall. Voters ain’t buying.

    There was no bounce from the budget, which is the historical norm.This COALition budget has been the deadest of dead cat Budget bounces ever. Not so for Labor, methinks. For a variety of compelling reasons my polling analysis has been for some time Labor will probably win 90+ seats … unforeseen events notwithstanding.

    Key & significant movement has now occurred on seats won, by Labor, 5 days post budget digestion :

    Labor 76 to 80 seats still 5.00
    Labor 81 to 85 seats widened from long standing 2.50 to 2.65
    Labor 86 to 90 seats significantly tightened from 5.00 to 3.00
    Labor 91 to 100 seats tightened from 8.00 to 5.00

    Bookies odds update: Fluctuated briefly, showing minor some movement given the 24hrs prior pre-budget announcements:

    Labor 1.17 (tightened from 1.18)
    Coalition 4.85 (widened from 4.50)

    In the previous month there had been some fluctuations at down & out to, 1.14 & 5.00 respectfully. Stable in the week prior to Budget night at 1.18 & 4.50 respectively.

    24 hours post budget again reverted & stabilised at the previous norm of:

    Labor 1.18
    Coalition 4.50

    There was a brief period on Thursday when it was ALP 1.20 v LNP 4.25, however by Friday morning it had again reverted to:

    Labor 1.18
    Coalition 4.50

    And has stayed there, through to now Sunday … as if the Budget week had never been …

  3. New England Cocky

    @Kaye Lee: Then there is the APVMA move from Canberra to Armidale by Barnyard Joke that many interpreted as pork-barrelling, but this analysis may be superficial as there is considerable dirty water already passed under the bridge as the price paid for the about $2.3 MILLION building rose on each sale to about $24 MILLION.

    The APVMA building was originally planned for UNE Campus and a MOU had been signed accordingly. Then the local Nat$ got involved and played out local politics.

    This story begins with a suspicious fire that destroyed the premises of the former Armidale Club, allegedly by a troubled security guard, a matter that remains under police investigation; and seems to involve Barnyard in at least the re-location from UNE to the Armidale Club site.

    This remains a developing story in the lead up to the 2019 Federal elections.

    Decentralisation of government departments is in itself a sensible policy because each government job creates another 3.5 private sector jobs and a subsequent local economic “boom”. It was a policy pursued by the late Bill McCarthy, former ALP Member for Armidale and Northern Tablelands, that the Greiner LNP misgovernment cut overnight with the loss of about 110 government jobs from Armidale NSW.

  4. Michael Taylor

    And there’s that time when Turnbull – who was Environment Minister in the Howard Govt – gave a mate $5M (?) while we were in caretaker period prior to the 2007 election.

  5. Jon Chesterson

    Oink oink yes minister, oink oink yes indeed!

  6. Michael Taylor

    That’s right, Kaye. I remember it now.

    It stank for three reasons:

    1. It was a shonky scheme.
    2. The money went to a mate.
    3. The grant was awarded while in caretaker mode.

    Outrageous stuff.

  7. paul walter

    Speaking of shonks, it was interesting to read Peter Hartcher’sd refutation of the nonsenses about workers being a thousand dollars worse off under Labor in last weeks Fairfax papers (since Hartcher himself works for them).

    I thought that interesting, that.

  8. TuffGuy

    There seems to be a common them running with the LNP that they can just do whatever they want and are never held to account for their actions. Some examples would be Joyce and the MDBA scandal, Cash and the union raid, Dutton and au pairs, delaying the election call so a broke LNP can waste taxpayer dollars promoting an unlegislated budget, payments to companies looking after Manus and Nauru, foreign donations and influence (when compared to Dastyari), etc, etc. One could continue for a very long time.
    So much corrupt behaviour yet never held to account???

  9. Alcibiades


    Morrison dismisses concerns over $600K/day taxpayer-funded ads as election date delayed

    PM running against the clock, hails Multi-Millionaire owners of champion racehorse Winx as the epitome of his vision of a ‘fair go for those who have a go’, and something about, lies, lies, liars, lies …

    This reality & perspective deficient happy clappin’ loser is gonna run a disastrous campaign, ’cause he is in charge of it. 🙂

    PS Whilst Erik Bagshaw of Fairfax misrepresents … Average full-time workers to be $1000 a year worse off under Labor – The Age

    … While the typical Australian (median) full-time worker earns $78,268 a year, according to the Grattan Institute, those on higher incomes pull the average earnings of a full-time worker up to $90,300 a year. When all workers, including part-time employees and casuals are taken into account the average is much lower at $67,243 a year.

    Associate Professor Phillips and Professor Gray said Labor’s plan so far, which includes low-income tax offsets of more than $1000 a year, would “very modestly lower income inequality” while the Liberal plan “will modestly increase it,” particularly after 2024, when high-income earners get the largest share of the benefits because they pay more tax.

    They said Labor’s plan was “clearly more progressive but smaller”…

  10. Henry Rodrigues

    The rapid deterioration of quality journalism has been hastened and facilitated by the malign guidance and evil influence of that gutless failed treasurer from the Howard era, Peter bloody Costello. He now sits on the board of Ch 9 the owners of the Age and SMH, smirking and chuffing, because he now gets to screw up the media like he did the tax structure.When will we be rid of these bastards.

  11. RosemaryJ36

    Anthony Green has drawn attention to the fact that the states call the elections for the Senate, so could pre-empt Morrison by doing so, forcing his hand!

  12. Keith

    I found Scomo’s comments about Labor lying fascinating, great chunks of carbon are falling off LNP pot …pot/kettle.

  13. Terence Mills

    When asked about the $600K a day of public money that the Liberal Party are spending in promoting themselves, Frydenberg was asked on Insiders for comment he said :

    “Money is being spent in accordance with approved processes, and that’s all transparent.”

    But even with all that transparency he was unwilling to comment on the amount involved beyond saying Labor dunnit too !

    The TV stations are, of course, loving it and to the extent that they would ever be impartial in their news, they clearly won’t say anything that may in any way be considered criticism of the government who are their biggest and most lucrative customer.

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