Laws and Justice

Sydney Council Ordered to Repay $36 Million in "Brazen Pork-Barrelling Scheme"

Main image to the post Sydney Council Ordered to Repay $36 Million in "Brazen Pork-Barrelling Scheme"

The Hornsby Shire Council is grappling with a directive to repay $36 million designated for a park that was never constructed, as part of a controversial funding scheme called the Stronger Communities Fund. Allegations of political favoritism emerged during a parliamentary inquiry in 2020, where it was revealed that documents relating to grant approvals were destroyed by the premier's office. Greens MP David Shoebridge condemned the program, highlighting that a significant portion of the grants were allocated to councils connected to the Coalition government.

Former Premier Gladys Berejiklian acknowledged that the distribution of funds may have been politically motivated, describing it as pork-barrelling, although she contended that the practice was not against the law. The extensive backlash prompted by the mishandling of funds raised concerns about the integrity of the grant process, with critics denouncing the lack of transparency and fairness in distributing public funds.

Hornsby Shire Mayor Philip Ruddock expressed frustration over the state government's decision to reclaim the funds, asserting that it was a maneuver to reduce costs before the upcoming state budget. The council had received a substantial amount of money under the Stronger Communities Fund, primarily aimed at improving sports facilities and addressing inadequate infrastructure in the area. Despite efforts to move forward with the project, challenges relating to bureaucratic processes hindered their progress, leading to a delay in utilizing the allocated funds.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09