Dubbo Council awarded $28 million sweetheart deal by Berejiklian and Barilaro

Thursday 26 November 2020

It has been revealed that Gladys Berejiklian and John Barilaro personally intervened to award the National Party electorate of Dubbo an extraordinary $28 million through the Government’s $252 million Council slush fund, in a successful attempt to sandbag the seat at the 2019 Election.

A recently discovered August 2017 letter to Dubbo Council from the then Member for Dubbo, Troy Grant, informed the Council that they would receive $28 million, in addition to the $10 million they had already received, and that:

“Funding has been secured with the support of the Premier and Deputy Premier.”

Please find attached Mr Grant’s letter to Dubbo Council (PDF 876.4KB).

Berejiklian and Barilaro have both attempted to claim until now that they had no role in the administration of the scheme or the awarding of grants.

Papers tabled by the Office of Local Government to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Government grants show this enormous sum was the second largest grant handed over through the slush fund, beaten only by the $90 million handed to blue ribbon Liberal Council of Hornsby.

This funding was allocated by the Premier and Deputy Premier once it had become clear that Mr Grant was leaving the Parliament, endangering the once safe National Party seat.

An Independent candidate as well as the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party targeted the seat at the 2019 election, and the new National Party candidate was elected by the skin of his teeth following a 23 per cent swing against the Government.

“This is yet another example of the NSW Government misusing this slush fund in an attempt to hold on to power,” said Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne.

“Mr Grant’s letter reveals that far from being hands off, as they have claimed, Gladys Berejiklian and John Barilaro personally intervened in the grants program to award a massive pay day to a very small Council.

“Mr Grant also admits that the $28 million is well beyond what the Council should have been entitled to under the program.

“I call on the Premier and Deputy Premier to explain how this $28 million grant was identified and what role they both played in the selection of projects.

“Dugald Saunders was elected on a tiny 2 per cent margin. It’s fair to say the $28 million grant made all the difference in the Government holding on to the seat of Dubbo.

“What makes this even worse is that Dubbo Council, with a population of 50 000 residents benefitted from a massive pay day, while the Inner West and Canterbury Bankstown, with a combined pop over 500 000 did not receive a single dollar from the NSW Government.

“If we had been given our fair share Inner West residents would have seen a further $24 million invested into local infrastructure,” said Mayor Byrne.

This $28 million was in addition to $10 million funding that had already been provided to Dubbo following its merger.

For media enquiries, contact Bill Hawker, Mayoral Media Officer, 9392 5685, bill.hawker@innerwest.nsw.gov.au              

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Page last updated: 03 Dec 2020