I’ve warned many times that politicians who try to make too much hay out of certain political scandals are playing with fire. The “travel rorts” scandal of the late 90s was gleefully exploited by Labor, in order to whack the Howard government – but it all came to a sticky end, most dreadfully with the attempted suicide of an MP.
More recently, the Dual Citizenship scandal, which initially must have seemed such a great opportunity to deal some hurt out to the sanctimonious Greens, ended up claiming MPs on all sides of politics. Not to mention creating such ludicrous outcomes as Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, born in Australia to a Holocaust-refugee mother, being challenged as a supposedly dual national.
The lesson of all these scandals is that what really ends up being exposed is that they’re all at it. Rorts and pork-barrelling are politics-as-usual. Inevitably, the biters end up getting bit back. The current “sports rorts” scandal plaguing the Morrison government is no different – in which a (now-former) minister allegedly channelled money to government seats – as Labor leader Anthony Albanese seems about to learn.
The Morrison government has accused Anthony Albanese of “hypocrisy” over the sport rorts scandal, pointing to an Auditor-General’s report that found the Labor leader administered a grants program that “disproportionately” gave money to Labor seats when he was infrastructure minister.
Labor has plenty of rorting history. In the early 90s, the Keating government was rocked by accusations that Sports Minister Ros Kelly was pork-barrelling sports grants into marginal Labor seats. Kelly’s excuse that the funding model had been worked out on a whiteboard only added to the circus.
But, it turns out that Labor’s rorting ways didn’t end with Kelly’s resignation – and the chickens are coming home to roost far closer than Albanese would like. Albanese was Minister for Infrastructure and Transport in from 2007 to 2013 – and guess what?
An Australian National Audit Office report in 2011 found ministers “waived” the eligibility criteria for projects funded by Labor’s Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program, and that a number of projects from Coalition seats did not get funding…
“Projects located in electorates held by the ALP and independent members were more successful at being awarded funding than those located in electorates held by the Coalition parties.”
Is anyone really surprised by this? Including the same journalists who have been clutching their pearls in recent weeks?
It looks like the only difference between the rorts of yore and more recent pork-barrelling efforts is that an Excel sheet has replaced the whiteboard.
The report also found Mr Albanese’s office had set out the projects by electorate, in a similar way to the colour-coded spreadsheets former minister Bridget McKenzie used for the controversial sports grant scheme.
“In addition to the data originally provided by the department, two new columns were added to the worksheet to identify the electorate in which the project was located and the political party that held that electorate,” the report reads.theaustralian.com.au/nation/politics/josh-frydenberg-accuses-anthony-albanese-of-hypocrisy-over-sports-rorts-scandal
All of which is not a good look for an opposition leader who has been busily riding his high horse for weeks, lambasting the government for rorting grants money for political gain.
Let the pollie who is without sin cast the first stone in the parliamentary house of glass.
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