Busting the pork barrel in South Australia; regions suffer

ISLAND VISIT: Independent Senator Rex Partrick on the main street of Kingscote on Kangaroo Island last year. Photo: Stan Gorton
ISLAND VISIT: Independent Senator Rex Partrick on the main street of Kingscote on Kangaroo Island last year. Photo: Stan Gorton

Independent Senator Rex Patrick says pork barreling by the major parties is impacting on how South Australia's regions are funded.

Mr Patrick has highlighted the extent to which South Australia is harmed by the political pork barrel war being waged by the coalition government and Labor opposition.

Funding for SA electorates. Source: The Guardian and Rex Patrick

Funding for SA electorates. Source: The Guardian and Rex Patrick

According to the exhaustive tabulation of electorate-specific election announcements and commitments compiled by The Guardian newspaper, the coalition has targeted marginal seats with nearly $3 billion of spending promises and many hundreds of millions more are being thrown at supposedly 'safe' seats that are now hotly contested, Mr Patrick said.

He said election promises directed to the top 10 electorates in the coalition's pork barrel list totalled more than $3.8 billion - an average of $380 million per seat.

The coalition had only pledged some $221 million across all 10 South Australian federal electorates, he said.

More than half of that, $125 million, has been allocated to one electorate, Mayo, he said.

The largest and most economically and social disadvantaged electorate in the state, Grey, had been promised a very modest $14.6 million, he said.

And two SA electorates, Hindmarsh and Spence had missed out entirely, he said.

Labor had also targeted close to $1 billion at marginal electorates across the country, but only $78.7 million across SA electorates, he said.

Labor had promised nothing specific to five SA electorates - Mayo, Makin, Barker, Adelaide, and Spence, he said.

"Pork barrelling of government grants, projects and programs to marginal electorates is a form of political corruption that skews the distribution of public funds according to political need rather than the needs of communities," Mr Patrick said.

"This directly disadvantages South Australia as public resources are disproportionately poured into marginal electorates in the big states - New South Wales, Queensland and elsewhere.

"It is all too clear that Prime Minister Scott Morison only sees public policy through the lens of political gain.

To all intents and purposes, he treats the Federal Treasury as the Coalition's private re-election fund."

SIC 'EM: Senator Rex Patrick visited Port Lincoln this month to connect with locals and discuss various issues. Photo: Lachlan Smith.

SIC 'EM: Senator Rex Patrick visited Port Lincoln this month to connect with locals and discuss various issues. Photo: Lachlan Smith.

The malapportionment of public resources directly harmed South Australia which, owing to relative population decline, a reduction in the number of South Australian federal electorates, had few marginal seats.

SA therefore barely features in the huge spray of taxpayers' cash orchestrated by coalition and to a lesser extent by Labor, he said

"Whatever was you look at it, South Australia is a loser when the distribution of public resources is determined by crude political calculation," Mr Patrick said.

"Pork barrelling is a form of political corruption that directly harms our state and our communities.

"South Australia would get a much better deal if public resources were allocated according to merit and need, through transparent and accountable processes, and not directed according to perceived electoral advantage."

"We need to fix this, regardless of whether it is the coalition or Labor that forms the next government."

"If re-elected I'll be working to achieve much greater transparency and accountability in relation to the award of government grants and for the disclosure of Budget decisions that have not been announced prior to the election period, thereby inhibiting governments from dishing out funds from an election pork barrel during the political campaign."

"This is another part of a wider campaign to fix Australia's broken and increasingly corrupted politics; especially through the establishment of a Federal anti-corruption commission, parliamentary reform and greater transparency measures relating to political donations."

"Comprehensive integrity and transparency measures must be an absolute priority for the next Parliament. I plan to press hard on all fronts as soon as the Senate convenes after the election."

This story Very little pork for South Australia: Rex Patrick first appeared on The Islander.