News Politics Australian Politics Government defends pork barrel allegations

Government defends pork barrel allegations

coalition pork barrel
Simon Birmingham pointed to other grant programs that provided strong support to Labor electorates.
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Finance Minister Simon Birmingham has defended accusations of pork barrelling after revelations the Coalition government spent four times the amount of money in its own seats compared with Labor.

The analysis of 19,000 grants totalling $2.8 billion by the Nine newspapers revealed that $1.9 billion went to coalition seats over three years – four times the amount of money in grants than Labor-held seats.

Senator Birmingham said the analysis was parochial in which of the 11 government grant programs it focused on.

“This is a fairly selective analysis. It looks at 11 grants programs out of around 1700 such programs,” he told the Nine Network.

“A number of [these programs] are more skewed towards regional electorates or drought-affected electorates, electorates that we as a Liberal and National party tend to hold the vast majority.”

Senator Birmingham also pointed to other grant programs that provided strong support to Labor electorates, such as disability support.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison put the discrepancies between Labor and Liberal electorates – including Defence Minister Peter Dutton’s inner Brisbane seat receiving almost 50 times more than its Labor-held neighbour – to Coalition seats having good local members.

Mr Morrison will be on the hustings again on Thursday as the government sells its economic management during the pandemic ahead of next year’s federal election – for which he is yet to set a date.

He will visit the NSW Central Coast seat of Robertson, which Labor holds by a 1.1 per cent margin, before jetting down to Tasmania on Friday and Saturday to focus on the marginal seats of Braddon and Bass.

Meanwhile, Labor leader Anthony Albanese will be in his own inner-Sydney electorate as attention turns to the government’s mid-year economic update.

Mr Albanese is due to return to Queensland on Friday after campaigning in the state on Monday, the first day its borders reopened to NSW.