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
DODGY DUTTON FOLLOWS MCKENZIE LEAD - WELCOME TO SAFER SEATS RORTS
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has been caught red-handed rejecting the advice of his own community safety experts and directing taxpayers' money into projects in marginal and Government-held electorates.
In an explosive story from ABC 730, freedom-of-information documents about Round Three of the Safer Communities Fund reveal that Minister Dutton was prioritising the election fortunes of the Liberal and National Parties in the 2019 election over community safety.
ABC has also revealed that Minister Dutton provided a one-off discretionary grant to the National Retail Association one week after the Association made a donation to the Minister’s election campaign.
Given that then 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, Minister Dutton's actions raise questions as to whether a similar breach of Ministerial Standards has occurred.
The ABC also reported that Minister Dutton announced 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.
Labor's Shadow Minister for Government Accountability, Senator Kristina Keneally, said that Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister Dutton must immediately come clean and explain their Safer Seats Rorts scandal.
“It seems Peter Dutton was not trying to make communities safer, but rather he was using taxpayers’ money to make Liberal seats safer.
“Peter Dutton's community safety experts made detailed recommendations about which communities needed help, but the Minister rejected that advice with 91 per cent of funding ending up in Government-held, independent or marginal Labor seats.
“Of course, every community around the nation would welcome more community safety funding, but why did Peter Dutton reject the advice of the community safety experts?
“Yesterday, I warned that Sports Rorts was just the tip of the iceberg for Scott Morrison treating taxpayers’ money like Liberal Party money. One day later, Peter Dutton has proved this point with Safer Seats Rorts.
“This eight-year-old Liberal Government is so sneaky, but Australians deserve to know whether their community missed out on being safer because of Peter Dutton's pre-election Safer Seats Rorts wheeling and dealing.
“Which communities needed Community Safety funding and missed out? Was there another colour-coded spreadsheet? Did Peter Dutton do any dodgy deals for donors with his Safer Seats Rorts?
“What did Scott Morrison know? Was he or his office involved, like they were with Sports Rorts?
“The Liberals treat taxpayer money like it’s Liberal Party money. How can they be looking after you, when they are so busy looking after themselves?”
Freedom-of-information documents released by ABC 730 tonight reveal that Minister Dutton:
- rejected the advice from his own community safety experts and reduced funding for 19 safety projects
- directed taxpayers' money into 53 cherry-picked projects, ahead of other safety projects his experts were said were more important
- made sure that two projects in his own electorate were funded, even though his own experts did not recommend them
- announced 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
- still funded the two Braddon projects even though his own community safety experts told him not to.
WEDNESDAY, 10 FEBRUARY 2021
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