Were Sports Rorts another reason Labor lost the 2019 Election? What about CDG’s and Regional Grants? Do “They all do it”? Part 4.

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The story so far.

Part 1. An analysis of the Sports Infrastructure grants scheme which showed the bias against labor electorates which only got 31.54% of the $100 million on offer.

Read it here.

https://vinceogrady.wordpress.com/2020/09/07/were-sports-rorts-another-reason-labor-lost-the-2019-election-part-1/

Read the further inquiry into the Scheme here at the Senate Select committee on administration of Sports Grants.

https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Administration_of_Sports_Grants

Part 2. An analysis of Community Development Grants from their introduction in MYEFO 2013 to the end of 2019. Showing a bias against Labor electorates which only got 25.06% of the $1.1 Billion on offer.

Read about it here.

https://vinceogrady.wordpress.com/2020/09/11/were-sports-rorts-another-reason-labor-lost-the-2019-election-what-about-community-development-grants-and-regional-grants-schemes-part-2/

Part 3. An analysis of Three regional Grants schemes.

a. Building Better Regions Fund Programme – Infrastructure Projects Stream b. Building Better Regions Fund Programme – Community Investments Stream c. Stronger Communities Programme

Showing a Bias against labor Electorates which only got 21.66% of the $714 Million on offer.

Read about it here.

https://vinceogrady.wordpress.com/2020/09/18/were-sports-rorts-another-reason-labor-lost-the-2019-election-what-about-community-development-grants-and-regional-grants-schemes-part-3/

My interest in all of this

It is the nature of Journalism to never tell a full story. Nothing like the stories I was trained to tell. My stories were more important than Journalists stories, because they involved punishment of the person I was writing the story about. That punishment consisted mainly with fines but could also send someone to prison

My Stories were about offenders against the laws and we Coppers had a duty to tell the facts and only the facts. We just had the words about the things we saw, did and were told by people who were intimately involved in the story we were telling.

There was none of this stuff.

“It was sunny day and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky”

We would say.

“At such and such a time day and date, I was standing on the high street in Middle Wallop, It was a clear sunny day and I had excellent line of sight and visibility up to 30 meters away. I saw…..”

Whereas the journalsist would say, “a car travelling at high speed hit and injured Joe Bloggs who was walking across the road.”

My report might say.

“I was standing on the nearside of the road facing the Cross Keys public house when I saw a man stagger out of the front door of the public house and trip over on the pavement and fall into the road, where he was hit by a Morris Minor sedan Motor vehicle Registration number XYX 123 which was travelling along the road at an estimated 20 miles per hour in a 30 miles and hour Speed restricted zone.”

The press report.

” an ambulance was called and he was whisked away to hospital where he is being treated for injuries. The police are investigating”

My report would probably say.

On seeing the occurrence, I immediately called for an Ambulance at 11.00am and then proceeded to attend to the injured man. I rendered first aid (recovery position and monitoring), until the ambulance arrived at 11.06am. The man who I now know to be Joe Bloggs was taken to xyz hospital, where he was admitted to casualty in a serious condition.

I then Spoke to the driver of the vehicle who had struck Joe Bloggs and cautioned them. (Standard police procedure) and them asked them if they were in need of any medical assistance. They responded “No”. I then asked them what they recalled from the incident………….”

I think you, dear reader might get the idea. My story is full of facts and concise, whereas the fictitious reporter’s is full of nothing approaching anything which actually gets to the nub of the matter. Just that it was a sunny day and someone was injured when they were hit by a car.

It was the same with the Sports administration Story. A little bit of information was being dribbled out at a time and like a thriller there were several episodes (with the requisite drama) which finally got to an approximation of the facts.

But the Sports rorts story didn’t even come close.

Particularly with relation to evidence. The evidence in Question was the Colour coded Spreadsheet. We didn’t get any figures from it, no analysis and not even a look. Only an angled picture and a few words like the emotive “Pork Barreling” expression.

Those were the omitted bits of the story. They were the bits that made me download the data and actually match it with electorates and then analyse it.

Possibly the worst observation on twitter (from a journalist) was along the lines “They all do it”

Now let’s examine that proposition.

Firstly they all do what? They haven’t told us properly what the coalition did with the Sport infrastructure grants. Pork Barreling? Is that a crime?

The answer to all of this is that words like corruption are only an offence in NSW and Victorian Law and relate to the NSW ICAC and Victorian IBAC Acts.

Pork Barreling? There are no offences relating to Pork of any kind in the Criminal Code.

If we come back to reality for a moment, the Legal aspects of this scheme have been canvassed in Submission 14 to the Select Committee on Administration of Sports grants by Professor Anne Twomey from Sydney University. Now that submission is worth reading. Here is a link.

Lets examine another part of “they all do it”. Does one potentially illegal action negate another similar illegal action?

If for example my brother steals and I am caught red handed stealing, can I say well he does it so it’s OK for me to do it?

The answer to that is it’s a nonsense to even suggest it. no one is allowed to break any properly constituted law and so the thought processes of the journalist that tweeted that are completely skewed.

So lets dig deeper. What evidence do they have that they all do it? The simple answer is none. At least none that I have seen or read about in articles in the press. They might well dog whistle about Whiteboards and untidy processes but that in itself doesn’t constitute crime.

Journalists who Tweet should stick to things they have evidence for, they should realise that people hang on their every word and make voting decisions because of what they write.

In effect it’s sloppy and lazy and I am calling it out.

So lets nail this. DO THEY ALL DO IT?

Many people will remember Ros Kelly and her whiteboard back in the Hawke era. How much information do we have about that Scheme? I have looked and not found much. It is my contention that it can’t be compared against these three schemes, because in the Whiteboard era, there were no Grants rules and guidelines. So we wouldn’t be comparing like with like.

Lets add some facts to the mix.

Until 2007, there were no rules and guidelines for federal grants. As The Auditor General’s Audit Report No.21 2011–12 states,

On page 11 of that report

Summary

Introduction

1. Grants administration is an important activity for many Commonwealth entities, involving the payment of billions of dollars of public funds each year.1 However, prior to late 2007, there was no official guidance provided to agencies relating specifically to the administration of grant

programs. In December 2007, Finance Minister’s Instructions were issued providing information about the Budget and other related processes, including the decision‐making processes that were to apply to grants.

2. In particular, the 2007 Instructions introduced a requirement that Ministers should not make any decisions on discretionary grants without first receiving departmental advice on the merits of the grant application relative to the guidelines for that program. The Instructions further provided that two types of grant decisions (the approval of grants that agencies had recommended be rejected and grants within a House of Representatives Minister’s own electorate) were to be referred to a group of Ministers for decision.2 In respect to the public reporting of approved grants, the Instructions required that the details of individual grants were to be published on agency websites within two days of the announcement of the grant.

3. In February 2008, the then Minister for Finance and Deregulation (Finance Minister) announced that a comprehensive review of the value of discretionary grants and the transparency and effectiveness of existing programs would be undertaken.3 In establishing and undertaking the review,particular attention was paid to the findings and recommendations of the wide range of audits of grants administration undertaken by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO). In this respect, the July 2008 report of the Strategic Review of the Administration of Australian Government Grant Programs (Strategic Review) commented that many of these audits had raised significant issues going both to the overall framework for the administration of grant programs and to the quality of administration of individual programs.4

4. The Strategic Review recommended the retention of the existing requirement for public reporting of individual grants, albeit with some changes to the operation of the requirement.5 In light of the findings and recommendations of the Strategic Review, the Government decided that therequirement for Ministers to refer two types of grant decisions to a Ministerial group would be replaced by an arrangement under which responsibility for such decisions would be retained within the responsible portfolio, but with the associated requirement that Ministers will report to the Finance Minister:

all decisions to approve a particular grant which the agency has recommended be rejected; and

for Ministers that are a Member of the House of Representatives, each instance in which they approve a grant in their own electorate.

5. These additional reporting requirements took effect in January 2009 (through revised Finance Minister’s Instructions). They were subsequently retained, with some minor amendments, in the Commonwealth GrantGuidelines (CGGs)6 which were issued on 1 July 2009 to give full effect to the Government’s consideration of the recommendations of the Strategic Review. The reporting provisions (and related grant administration requirements) were also supported by the retention in the CGGs of the requirement that Ministers will not approve a proposed grant without first receiving agency advice on its merits. Table S 1 summarises the three key grant reporting obligations that are currently in place.

The Minister for finance in December 2007 was The Hon Lindsay Tanner MP, Minister for Finance and Deregulation. The Rudd Labor government was returned after the 24 Nov 2007 Federal Election.

Labor was in for the 6 years from that date until September 2013.

During that time there was one particular grant program which was audited by The Auditor general.

See. ANAO 2014_2015_09.pdf. Which audited the Regional Development Australia Fund. (RDAF)

This audit was for rounds 3 and 4 which covered the value of $226,381,913

A previous Audit had been done for rounds 1 and 2. To the Value of $349,416,635

I have examined and analysed the whole four rounds (using the methodology I described in part two of this series) of the Grant scheme which amounted to a value of $575,798,548 and I determined that overall the distribution of grants to Political party Electorates was as follows.

RDAF (Regional Development Australia Fund) funding over 4 rounds. Labor Government in Power.
Data analysis from department of Infrastructure spreadsheet. Prepared by V. O’Grady
Rural Development Australia fund. 4 Rounds between 2010 to 2014 under Labor Government.
Graph prepared from Data analysis of Department of Infrastructure spreadsheet by V.O’Grady

Discussion of this Grant Analysis.

Whilst it may be possible to lay a charge of Pork Barrelling at the ALP and Minister King when one looks at round 4 distribution of funds, when taken as a whole the distribution of funds across all four rounds between Labor, Coalition and Independent Electorates is fair and balanced. So the answer to the charge “They all do it” is roundly debunked.

It would be unfair to compare grants schemes decisions made before the guidelines were implemented by The Minister for Finance, with schemes under those rules because it would not be comparing like with like.

Grants made before 1 Jan 2018 were reported on website of the Department responsible for administration of the scheme. After this date all Grants made by all departments were put on a Government portal called GrantConnect.  

https://www.grants.gov.au/

This portal has current grants and opportunities for prospective grantees as well as downloadable excel spreadsheets of searchable parameters.

In 2018 there were 24,447 with a value of AUD $15,407,883,195 (All active and retired agencies.)

1n 2019 there were 24,001 with a value of AUD $15,816,923,048 (All active and retired agencies.)

In 2020 to 23 Jun 2020 there have been 10,802 with a value of AUD $5,112,475,664 (All active and retired agencies.)

I also learned that Sport Australia is an independent Commonwealth body and is not covered by the grants https://www.finance.gov.au/government/commonwealth-grants/commonwealth-grants-rules-guidelines. However Sport Australia can still be Audited by the ANAO.

Conclusion.

Is Pork Barreling going on?

The simple answer to that is yes.

Is this a plan by the coalition to retain power?

There is evidence before the Senate that these schemes have been manipulated somewhat, whether that is criminal or illegal is for others to decide.

All I have done is seek more information than was available from the press Corps in Canberra.

I have laid that analysis out and proposed that this may well have been a plan to help the coalition government retain seats.

During the process, as I mentioned, the hypothesis was that Marginal and targeted seats were the Goal. Sitting at my computer I realised that the whole scheme was the smoking gun.

The answer is in the allocation of funds across all Schemes, They are all administered by the Department of Infrastructure. It is apparent that the crucial seats to the Coalition (which get them over the line) are the Seats in Queensland and those held by the Nationals in NSW and Victoria.

Those 33 seats were given the greatest Value by the Coalition Government of the day. It answered a crucial Question for me. That Question was “Why would anyone vote for a dickhead like certain people in Nationals seats in New South Wales and Queensland?” The answer is is that the people vote for them, because they deliver funding for projects in the electorate, without fail and consistently.

I also think that the discussion about marginals and target seats were a “look over there” tactic to throw people off the scent of what was really going on.

Downer at Yankalilla with her celebrity cheque was a dry gully.

I completed this work in march of this year. I then proceeded to tell the press about it. After about a month of bashing my head up against a brick wall, Michael Pascoe, one of the few journalists I have any respect for after this exercise, took the work and wrote several articles about it.

They were in the New Daily newspaper on line if anyone want to read them. They are hard hitting and important, yet the Main Stream press, including the ABC have been silent on the misuse of $1.8 billion of Taxpayers money.

This is a sad indictment the press in Australia have become. An utter disgrace. If they had bothered I wouldn’t have taken the time to do this.

All that I can say is thank goodness for the Digital Disruption that the internet has brought to us. It’s a sad day when the “old” press see their once excellent industry change and fail to change with it.

Instead of embracing change and welcoming new and exciting times they have dug in and heaped abuse on their erstwhile customer, who now use Twitter and other Social media.

I see twitter as the “Letters to the Editor” many people often said to me how did you get your name in the paper and I can’t get my letter to the editor up.

The simple answer to that is three fold.

Your letter has been censored (not published)

It was your opinion which someone in that paper didn’t think was worth while publiching and

You might well have a differing opinion politically than the Newspaper which says they to be balanced.

On Twitter

You are always published

It’s a conduit to real information such as reports and academic research, Statistics and expert knowledge

You can have your own opinion either in a tweet or as a conduit to your blog.

Those are the things which have changed. I like it because many times I consider the News trivial and partisan and much more right wing than it used to be. I think it is manipulated. In fact it is no longer useful.

I have come to the time in my life where I never believe anything that is said on the ABC or in any of the newspapers. I always go and read the original document to get the whole story.

Journalists are not experts. But they can become so by research and diligence. One such example was Nick Ross who penned the truth about the Coalition’s NBN scheme. Everything he wrote, mirrored my own decade of experience in the industry. Ross went out and did his job. Yet he was castigated in his own organisation by cowardly and unprincipled action against him by what can only be described as Partisan politics. That was back in 2013. Nothing has changed in the ABC since then. In fact it has become worse. you expect that sort of garbage from the Popular Murdoch press, but not from the ABC.

My next Blog will be about the Community Development grants in the 2020 year. Why? because it is an election year in Queensland. Now that should tell a story.

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By Vince O'Grady

Vince emigrated to Australia in 1978 from the United Kingdom, where he was a Police Constable in Brierley Hill, on the outskirts of Birmingham in the West Midlands. He saw a great deal of dysfunctional society during his four-and-a-half years’ Police service and realised the necessity of always being truthful, factual and slow to judge others. Deciding to pursue a different career in Australia, he chose telecommunications and has worked in sales, product and marketing management in the public and private sectors. In 1981, he became ill with arthritis and ceased full-time work in 1992, when he became a sessional teacher at TAFE in a number of subjects — mainly related to manufacturing. During the Howard years, he became interested in politics and after “hiding in plain sight” for many years, joined the Labor party in 2010. Vince has many interests, including social justice, inclusion and the good old Australian “fair go” for all. He has policy interests in economics and education. His interest in history shows that we make the same mistakes over and over again and hopes to make a difference to the political debate by clear thinking and analysis rather than by trite sloganeering. In his private life, Vince enjoys woodwork and also is a keen family historian, with a very Irish paternal side and a very French Huguenot maternal side — and is a mixture of a working class and an upper middle class upbringing. He has a Bachelors degree in Business and qualifications in Workplace Training and Assessing. He is also a keen home brewer of fine ales — at least according to his son!

3 comments

  1. Thanks Vince, comprehensive and compelling. I believe an analysis of NSW Government grants over the last decade or so would tell a similar story. (I was a senior manager in the state’s business development agency for around 25 years.) Happy to have a chat any time that suits. Best regards, Paul Judge

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