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Labor claims export grants program was used to ‘win election’

The analysis of the scheme depends on whether it is judged by the value of the outlay or the number of recipients, with Labor convinced the Coalition electorates gained a bigger share.

Of the 17 grants to small and medium businesses in two rounds of the scheme, the government estimates seven went to Labor seats, nine to Coalition seats and one to a seat held by an independent MP.

“The SME Export Hubs help not only businesses in their immediate vicinity but entire regions to take advantage of opportunities around the world, which will drive economic growth here at home and create new Australian jobs,” Industry Minister Karen Andrews said.

“These hubs are now even more vital than ever to help Aussie businesses get back on the front foot after the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Labor analysis finds the first round of the scheme, announced in March last year, was worth $4.5 million and saw a 97:3 split between Coalition and Labor electorates.

When the first and second rounds were combined, with a total outlay of about $10 million, the split was 64:30 between the Coalition and Labor, with the remainder going to seats held by independents.

Labor industry spokesman Brendan O'Connor.

Labor industry spokesman Brendan O’Connor.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“The politicisation of taxpayers’ money is deep in this government’s veins,” Labor industry spokesman Brendan O’Connor said.

“How many small businesses were overlooked because the Morrison government was solely focused on winning the election at all costs?

“The government should be providing a strategic plan to grow businesses and regions, regardless of whether they sit in a particular electorate.”

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