The Treasurer has been grilled on why the government’s discretionary fund was used to fund around $2.5 million worth of election promises before the 2021 polls, apparently sidestepping scrutiny typically applied to budget line items.
Michael Ferguson is appearing before Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee after Labor raised claims of pork barrelling.
“This is the Tasmanian Liberal Party’s version of the infamous Sports Rorts saga,” said Labor Member for Franklin, Dean Winter.
“The pork barreling grants were paid for in 2021 by the Liberal Party plundering the Treasurer’s Reserve, which is a contingency fund to be used primarily in emergency situations. This did not go through a Parliamentary process, as Jeremy Rockliff and Nic Street had claimed.”
Mr Ferguson has told the panel the Reserve fund may have been used to expedite grant distribution.
“Governor’s approval for new-purpose spending has occurred in 11 out of the last 12 years, so there’s nothing in and of itself that’s particularly unusual about that,” he said.
“They were commitments that were made in the context of an election, people expect the government to keep their promises, and that’s exactly what we did – but noting that the bulk of the election commitments were met through the subsequent budget.”