The Liberals’ new Prime Minister, their new Treasurer and their much-diminished Finance Minister have more very serious questions to answer after damaging revelations today that they went against departmental advice when they handed a $443.4 million taxpayer-funded grant to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
The Australian reports the Department of Finance recommended the budget allocation to protect the Reef be set at $200 million over six years, but the Government instead decided to shovel almost half-a-billion out the door immediately to make the Budget bottom-line look better in the future.
They were in such a rush to shovel money to their mates that they gave more than twice as much, six times faster.
Scott Morrison, Josh Frydenberg and Mathias Cormann are all implicated in this. As the former Treasurer, the former Environment Minister and the Finance Minister, they all had a hand in using this dodgy accounting trick to artificially inflate future projected surpluses by handing out taxpayer money without any sort of proper process.
The Liberals don’t care about the reef; they were only interested in fudging numbers in the Budget.
These latest revelations support Labor’s repeated calls for Treasury and Finance officials to attend and fully participate in the Senate inquiry.
Treasury and Finance need to publicly explain their full involvement, including when they first learned of the proposal, what advice they gave, whether costings were approved, why there was no defensible process, and why they were ignored.
With a record like this, no wonder net debt has doubled and gross debt has crashed through half-a-trillion dollars for the first time in the nation’s history under this rabble.
This dodgy accounting trick shows yet again the Liberals have no idea when it comes to managing the Budget in a fair and responsible way in the interests of Australians.