Auditor General releases scathing indictment of NSW Government council grants rorts

Tuesday 8 February 2022

The findings released today by the NSW Auditor General into the NSW Government’s systematic rorting of council grants must be acted on immediately by Premier Perrottet.

Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne, who made the initial request for the Auditor General to investigate the Stronger Communities program, has called on Mr Perrottet to compensate the people of the Inner West for the $24 million in funding they were improperly prevented from accessing.

“The Auditor General’s report is a scathing indictment of this $252 million slush fund and it is now time for the Government to compensate communities like ours that were cheated out of funding,” Byrne said.

The Auditor General has found that:

• 96% of the $252 million was allocated to projects in Coalition seats

• 36% of the funding went to one Council, Hornsby, where NSW Liberal Party President Philip Ruddock is the Mayor

• $8 million in projects were identified before the guidelines for the project were finalised

“This investigation has confirmed that 96 per cent of the funds were handed over to Liberal and National Party electorates with no proper assessment process and zero transparency,” said Byrne.

“We said at the time when this was uncovered that this was one of the largest rorts in the history of NSW and the Auditor General has confirmed that beyond doubt.

“The fact that ICAC is now investigating the awarding of $90 million to Hornsby Council, which is led by the NSW Liberal luminary, Philip Ruddock, shows how disgraceful this whole scandal is.

“The Stronger Communities Fund was established to support forcibly amalgamated Councils like the Inner West and Canterbury-Bankstown with local infrastructure, but we were improperly prevented from even applying for funds.

“We still desperately need financial assistance for infrastructure, and the Premier should stand up today and commit to working with us on a compensation fund.

“This is a test for Premier Perrottet. He has said he wants to end his Government’s systemic rorting of grants. It’s time now to act and show that he is the Premier for all of NSW not just blue-ribbon Liberal electorates,” Byrne said.

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Page last updated: 08 Feb 2022