Administration of grants an abuse of public trust: Mitchell

The administration of a federal government grants program has been described as "selfish and disrespectful" by a Tasmanian Labor MHR. While Brian Mitchell, the federal member for Lyons, welcomed the support committed for infrastructure projects in his electorate in last year's election campaign, he noted that the three electorates that received the majority of funding under the Community Development Grants program were those the Coalition had pinned its hopes on winning. Lyons was the beneficiary of a whopping $25.9 million in grant funding for numerous projects, while the safe Labor seat of Franklin received just $75,000 for works on a Huonville tennis court. "I will always welcome support for projects in my electorate, but it's pretty rank when the government only supports projects to serve its own selfish interests and not the interests of my communities," MrMitchell said. "The three seats targeted by the Liberals at the last election won the lion's share of Community Development Grants, while the two seats they didn't target received hardly any funds at all. This is not how decisions about public money should bemade. "It is disrespectful to community organisations and councils that spend time and money filling out grants applications when decisions aremade not on merit, but in the selfish political interests of the government. "That is an abuse of public trust." The electorate of Braddon was awarded the most grant funding of all five Tasmanian electorates with $34 million. Clark received $9.7 million, while Bass got $7.4 million. The Liberals ended up wresting Braddon and Bass from Labor and were confident they were on track to win Lyons before a social media scandal engulfed their candidate, Brighton councillor Jessica Whelan. The CDG program is supposed to provide funding based on "identified need", however determining this need is purely a matter for the government. A spokesperson for federal Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack said the program delivered the government's election commitments for community or regional infrastructure and that eligible projects were required to undergo a "rigorous value-for-money assessment" by the Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications Department. Tasmanian Liberal senator Eric Abetz has asked Labor to be "honest" and "say which [projects] they would have jumped in favour of which projects".He also pointed out that certain projects funded in Clark would indirectly service electors in Franklin.