Defense of the bankrupt car parks of Finance Minister Simon Birmingham
Projects were identified for funding not on the basis of their ‘one kiss and one ride’ merits for reducing road congestion, reducing travel times and increasing productivity, but on the ‘geographic profile and political ”, drawing on the contribution of deputies, senators and coalition candidates.
More than half of the car parks supposed to remove cars from the road have been approved without any estimate of the additional places to be added or without any additional places planned. And they were geared towards strengthening the fragile seats in the Melbourne suburbs following Malcolm Turnbull’s demise as prime minister.
These were industrial scale pork barrels compared to the infamous “sports rorts”. At least Sport Australia first identified the plans, before a political filter was applied by then Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie. The rort parking lot relied on the Coalition’s sheer political intelligence before the final list of approved projects was put together on a spreadsheet between then Infrastructure Minister Alan Tudge and the Prime Minister’s Office .
Due to the lack of due process and the failure to consult and block co-funding by state and local authorities, the mess is now sinking in the sand, to the detriment of drivers still stranded in traffic. .
Only two parking lots have been completed, only five have reached the construction stage and several other projects have been canceled.
From roads to hospitals to school halls and locker rooms, governments of all stripes are inclined to politicize the funding of public infrastructure that the community needs.
It should not be out of our mind to establish proper rules and procedures to stop rorts before they are deployed, which should be the focal point of the next Senate investigation into the parking lot scandal.
It is also the real work in government for which the Minister of Finance is paid. Instead of proposing hyper-politicized rationalizations of indefensible public spending after the fact.