AUDIT OFFICE TO INVESTIGATE LIBERALS’ SAFER SEATS RORTS

AUDIT OFFICE TO INVESTIGATE LIBERALS’ SAFER SEATS RORTS Main Image

14 April 2021

SENATOR KRISTINA KENEALLY
DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES 
 

AUDIT OFFICE TO INVESTIGATE LIBERALS’ SAFER SEATS RORTS

 
Labor today welcomes confirmation by the Auditor-General that he will conduct a performance audit of this 8-year old Liberal Government’s “Safer Seats Rorts” through the Safer Communities Fund.
 
Scott Morrison and former Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton have refused to explain why community safety expert advice was ignored and more than 90 per cent of all Safer Communities Fund round three grants approved ahead of the 2019 Federal Election were in Coalition or marginal Labor and independent seats.
 
Peter Dutton was even warned by his own safety experts in the Department of Home Affairs not to misuse taxpayer dollars in this way, that the grants he handpicked were not up to scratch and he would likely be criticised by the Auditor-General for these decisions.
 
It seems that, in the lead up to the 2019 election, the Liberals were not trying to make communities safer, but rather the Liberals were using taxpayers' money to make Government and marginal Labor and independent seats safer for the Liberal Party.
 
Australians deserve to know whether their community missed out on much needed safety equipment, like CCTV cameras, and being safer because of the Liberals’ pre-election Safer Seats Rorts wheeling and dealing.
 
The Auditor-General has explained that the objective of this audit is to, “assess whether the award of funding under the Safer Communities Fund was effective and consistent with the Commonwealth Grant Rules and Guidelines."
 
The ANAO expects to table its report in February 2022 and will examine:
·   Were appropriate guidelines in place?
·   Were applications assessed in accordance with the guidelines?
·   Were funding decisions appropriately informed and documented?
 
Australians know that Prime Minister Scott Morrison runs from accountability. He cut the ANAO's funding after the Auditor-General revealed the depths of the Sports Rorts scandal. He promised a national integrity commission more than two years ago and he has not delivered it.
 
Now, more than ever, Australians want and deserve transparency and integrity in their government. Instead with this tired old Liberal Government they get dodgy land deals, Sports Rorts and now Safer Seats Rorts.
 
The Liberals treat taxpayer money like it’s Liberal Party money.  How can they be looking after Australian families when they are so busy looking after themselves?
  
About the Liberals’ Safer Seats Rorts
 
The Liberals’ Safer Seats Rorts was uncovered after ABC 730's shocking report on 10 February 2021 revealed that then Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton rejected the advice of his own community safety experts and directed taxpayers' money to projects in marginal and Government-held electorates.
 
This included Peter Dutton announcing funding for two projects in the lead-up to the Braddon by-election with the then Liberal candidate, despite the grant guidelines not being written and without expert safety advice from his own Department. Minister Dutton funded the two Braddon projects even though his own community safety experts later told him not to.
 
ABC 730 also revealed that Minister Dutton fast-tracked a one-off discretionary grant to the National Retail Association one week after the Association made a donation to the Minister’s election campaign.
 
Following the ABC 730's revelations, it was later revealed by the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that Peter Dutton charged taxpayers more than $36,000 to charter a Royal Australian Air Force jet to Tasmania to make a grants announcement for CCTV systems for two councils during the 2018 Braddon byelection campaign.
 
Given that former Minister Bridget McKenzie resigned after she was found to have breached Ministerial Standards for failing to disclose a conflict of interest with an organisation to which she awarded a grant, Peter Dutton's actions raise questions as to whether a similar breach of Ministerial Standards has occurred.
 
WEDNESDAY, 14 APRIL 2021