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Car parks program shows country on a ‘corruption slippery slope’

The government is yet to respond to the submissions and put the bill to Parliament.

Professor Brown said the government should give its integrity commission stronger powers to deal with cases of “soft” corruption.

“There is nothing to fear from greater transparency. The opportunity to show leadership has been laid at the feet of the Prime Minister and here’s his chance to grab it,” he said.

Former NSW Treasury secretary Percy Allan says there’s been an increase in the number of programs aimed at supporting governments.

Former NSW Treasury secretary Percy Allan says there’s been an increase in the number of programs aimed at supporting governments.Credit:Louise Kennerley

Former secretary of the NSW Treasury, Percy Allan, said there was a growing number of programs being used by political parties to maximise their electoral chances.

He said at the federal level, the public service was under pressure not to press back against such programs while federal politicians wanted to be able to announce vote-winning projects.


“I think there’s a power shift going on towards the states, and that’s affecting the federal government which collects all the tax but the states get to spend it,” he said.

“There’s a focus from the federal government on wanting to announce things, to open things.”

While 47 projects were promised, several have had to be abandoned because of their cost or they were pledged in areas where available land is already planned for a local project. Just two car parks have been completed.

The chief executive officer of Parking Australia, Stuart Norman, said the government clearly needed help to complete some of the projects, noting some of them may never go ahead.

“We believe that these are needed but expertise is required to help roll these out and that expertise is lacking within the program partners and the Department of Infrastructure,” he said.

“Some of these may not be able to proceed for reasons out of [the federal government’s] control so is that funding going to be used for other sites of need?”

Current Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher defended the program, telling the ABC the car parks were based on need with the government aiming to reduce congestion.

“The idea of community car parks is to get people to drive to a station and then get on the train to get to where they need to go, thus reducing congestion across the overall road network and use the rail more efficiently,” he said.

The Auditor-General found the projects picked for funding “reflected the geographic and political profile of those given the opportunity to identify candidates”.


It found the projects were nominated either by sitting Coalition MPs, Coalition duty senators for Labor-held seats or by endorsed Liberal candidates in the electorates of Mayo and Macnamara.

Shadow finance spokeswoman Katy Gallagher said the program was an “industrial scale” of rorting done with taxpayers’ money.

“This was a government fund, appropriated through the budget, passed through the Parliament, and then a decision was taken by the Prime Minister that no one other than the people on this top 20 marginal list would be able to access that money,” she said.

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