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
LABOR ASKS AUDIT OFFICE TO INVESTIGATE DODGY DUTTON'S SAFER SEATS RORTS
Today I have written to the Auditor-General asking him to consider conducting a performance audit of Peter Dutton's Safer Seats Rorts through the Safer Communities Fund.
Documents obtained by the ABC under Freedom of Information laws and released last night reveal the Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, rejected the advice of his own community safety experts and directed taxpayers' money into projects in marginal and Government-held electorates.
This includes 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. Later his Department recommended against funding these projects.
I have also asked the Auditor-General to consider whether it was appropriate for Peter Dutton to provide a one-off discretionary grant to the National Retail Association after the Association made a donation to the Liberal-National Party in support of Mr Dutton.
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.
In the lead-up to the 2019 election, it seems Peter Dutton was not trying to make communities safer, but rather he was using taxpayers' money to make Government and marginal Labor and independent seats safer for the Liberal Party.
According to the ABC, 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.
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.
Australians deserve to know whether their community missed out on needed safety equipment, like CCTV cameras, and being safer because of Peter Dutton's pre-election Safer Seats Rorts wheeling and dealing.
Just last year, the Auditor-General reported to the Parliament on the award of funding under the Community Sport Infrastructure Program. The Auditor identified serious distortions in the grant process ahead of the 2019 Federal Election.
Notwithstanding the budget difficulties of the ANAO, I believe a performance audit of Peter Dutton's Safer Seats Rorts is urgently required to reveal the extent to which Peter Dutton is using taxpayers' money as if it was Liberal Party money.
THURSDAY, 11 FEBRUARY 2021
MEDIA CONTACT: LUCY BRADLOW 0427 280 390