A new bill put forward by Labor MP’s in State Parliament is being touted as a solution to pork barrelling across the Hunter.
It’s hoped the Government Grants Administration Bill 2021 will bring more fairness to the funding process.
Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp says Newcastle knows too well what it’s like to miss out.
“This will bring accountability to the grants process by reforming guidelines, giving the Attorney-General new powers to actually follow the money, impose new reporting requirements on ministers and agencies,” Mr Crakanthorp said.
“For example, if a department makes a recommendation for grants and the minister wants to change it, the minister actually has to put the reason in writing.”
There’s concern the Government’s flip-flopped Newcastle between regional and metropolitan status, meaning the city often misses out on both funding streams.
The Premier’s recent announcement of the new Minister for Cities portfolio has been raised as a possible solution to stop Newcastle and other regional centres, such as Wollongong, from falling through the cracks.
But Mr Crakanthorp says we need more than a name change to make sure Newcastle gets it’s fair share.
“I’m an optimist, I hope that it does make a change, but really we need to legislate to make these grants a little bit fairer in their distribution,” Mr Crakanthorp said.
“It’s okay to shift the chess pieces on the chessboard, but really you’ve got to make the rules pretty strict, otherwise we’re going to see a large amount of pork barrelling moving forward.”