Car park scheme was a ‘rort’, says senator

The Prime Minister at the launch of the car park fund, prior to the last election.

The Prime Minister at the launch of the car park fund, prior to the last election. Photo: AAP

A Senate committee report blasting the Morrison government’s commuter car park grants scheme has been tabled in parliament.

The committee, which had heard the $660 million commuter car park fund did not grant money in an effective or merit-based way, found it was “clear executive government and decision makers are not being held to account … for corrupt and otherwise questionable behaviour”.

Labor senator Tim Ayres, who chaired the committee, said the report showed the Prime Minister “was only interested in using public money to sandbag vulnerable Victorian seats”.

“The only metric that mattered was votes,” he said.

“There was no consideration of a project’s merits. There was no evaluation of a project’s feasibility or costs.

“It was a rort. It remains a giant rort from a corrupted government that has learned nothing and shows every sign of doing it again next year.”

Among seven recommendations, the report asks Prime Minister Scott Morrison to table a full explanation of the role he played in allocating car park funding before December 17.

Through the inquiry, senior Australian National Audit Office official Brian Boyd said the entirety of the $4.8 billion urban congestion fund had been used for the selection of projects with the same process.

Another report recommendation was a complete audit of the UCF.

Greens Senator Janet Rice echoed Senator Ayres’ sentiments.

“The Prime Minister was up to his neck in it,” she said.

“Basically, we had a systematic, co-ordinated scheme … to be spending taxpayer’s money for political purposes – to buy votes.”

A dissenting report penned by Liberal senator Claire Chandler said the report made a series of political criticisms “while ignoring [Labor] took an almost identical policy to the 2019 election”.

“A reasonable analysis is … Labor and the Coalition all recognised … a significant demand from the community to fund projects specifically targeted at reducing congestion in urban areas,” she wrote.

Mr Morrison has previously argued the responsible minister made decisions using the proper authorisations and Australians deserved better access to car parking.


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