Environment Restoration Fund rorts - statement to the House

By Terri Butler MP

04 March 2020

This government's never found a public fund that it doesn't want to rort. We've just seen even more evidence of that this week, when we learned exactly what happened with the Environment Restoration Fund. More than two-thirds of the initiatives under that fund went to Liberal or Liberal-target seats. Of course, most of the rest of them went to National or as-yet-unallocated issues. In fact, if you had a look, you'd find only three out of the entire 55 initiatives were exclusively in non-LNP or LNP-target seats.

This is a fund that should be going towards helping Australia to protect threatened species, to manage the risks to our environment and to protect our diversity. But, instead, it's being used as an election-winning fund by a Prime Minister who's never seen a public fund that he didn't want to mistake for his own LNP campaign fund. This is a Prime Minister, and this is a government, that's never seen public money that it didn't want to confuse for its own. It's a government we've got right now that is spending money—whether it's from the Urban Congestion Fund, whether it's from the Environment Restoration Fund or, of course, the most egregious of all, the sports rorts fund—with an eye to the political outcome, not the public good.

In the environment space, we've had a situation where, in the middle of a national ecological crisis following the bushfires, this government have been incredibly slow to get money out to the ground. And no wonder: they're too busy micromanaging how to rort funds and not looking at the big picture. That needs to change.