So you thought the Regional Partnership rorting ended with the erection (thatâ€™s Mandarin for election) of the Rudd Government? Wrong!
In the middle of the Kev 07 festival, the ALP released a green-washed grants based policy â€“ The Green Precinct Fund.
The GPF is a modest slush fund of $15 million over four years. Minimum projects go for half a mil and the max is $1.5 million for ten demonstration projects. However the GFP makes up a small amount the 12 billion dollars set aside for the Water for the Future plan. This is the equivalent of the Natural Heritage Trust grants that served the Coalition very well in its first few terms before it allowed the community to forget about.
According to last yearâ€™s media release, â€œWindy Hill has enormous roof space on its grandstand and buildings that can be used to harvest over 500,000 litres of rainwater each year. Capturing this water and investing in water efficiency measures could cut current consumption of mains drinking water in half.â€ Lindsay Tanner and Penny Wong handed over the $1.5 million cheque last week.
This money is a blatant cross subsidisation of the Essendon Football Clubâ€™s gaming, merchandising and fitness centre enterprises.
Why does wealthy Essendon need this demonstration project!? Essendon Football Club does not need it; Bill Shorten does not given his safe seat. Anyone familiar with the Windy Hill precinct will know that is surrounded by multimillion dollar houses made of accountants, doctors, professional footballers â€“ current and retired, fabulously wealthy tradies and dysfunctional members of our world class criminal families (recently depicted very attractively on Underbelly).
This rort is even worse than John Howardâ€™s personal patronage of the Western Bulldogs. In 2004 Howard pledged millions to upgrade the Institute of Boganics, sometimes known as the Western Oval! At least the former PM invested in an area of high disadvantage.
This is evidence of a creeping bias towards the Essendon Football Club in the ALP since the demise of Simon Crean as leader and one time No 1 Kangaroos Ticker Holder. If a Shinboner supporter was the Prime Minister, this creeping bias would have been opposed guaranteeing a football club undersiege by a heartless AFL Commissioner would have received the taxpayer dollars it deserved.
Football aside, the Coalition is going to find it tough framing the big environment dollars set aside for green-washed projects as pork barrelling in marginal seats. Like the NHT, the feel good factor is too hard to knock.
Good luck with that, Malcolm and Greg!