Labor has called out NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian for not telling the truth after Ms Berejiklian denied that she approved the allocation of millions of dollars of public money for political gain.
Ms Berejiklian refused to admit she was responsible for approving the distribution of grants from the Stronger Communities Fund (SCF), which allocated 95% of the available $252 million to seats held or targeted by the Liberals and Nationals at the 2019 State Election.
Government documents restored after being deleted from office computers and released today clearly show that the scheme was approved by the Premier and her office.
The documents confirm evidence given to a NSW Upper House inquiry into the integrity, efficacy and value for money of NSW Government grant programs which heard that the distribution of SCF grants were approved by the Premier and her office.
Labor also condemned Ms Berejiklian’s justification of pork barrelling, after the Premier claimed that using public money for blatantly political purposes was a normal occurrence under her Government.
The NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay said: “The Premier is not telling the truth when she says she didn't approve the use of taxpayers money in the Stronger Communities Fund for her own political purposes.
“She did approve those grants. And we know she approved them because Government documents clearly show she did, and the evidence that has been given to the parliamentary inquiry into government grants clearly shows she did.
“Pork barrelling is not ethical or normal behaviour. We should never accept that is normal behaviour. Public money should be for services, it should be for infrastructure, it should be for meeting the needs of our citizens. It isn’t there to be used for the Premier’s own political purposes.”
John Graham MLC said: “The documents released by the Government today clearly show that Gladys Berejiklian was the chief decision maker in the grubby grants scheme run out of the Stronger Communities Fund.
“Public money was handed out for blatantly political purposes. There is a reason the conduct of this scheme was referred to the ICAC by the NSW Upper House and the Premier and her office are up to their necks in it.”