The Car park rorts affair was the result of a series of grants that the Australian federal government made to build near train stations. It was later revealed that many of the projects were located almost exclusively in Liberal held seats, or in marginal seats. It followed the revelations in the sports rorts affair.

Background edit

In February 2019, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, along with the minister for cities urban infrastructure and population, Alan Tudge announced a part of their policies for the upcoming election in May.

The government promised $121 million for 1500 car spaces near existing train stations. In the announcement, Morrison mentioned four Liberal members who called for the upgrades, Michael Sukkar, Tony Smith, Tim Wilson and Jason Wood.[1]

It was later announced again on 29 April 2019, 2 weeks before the election, that the amount was increased by $300 million that would get cars off the road by getting people on to public transport.[2]

Early reporting edit

Following the ANAO report on the sports rorts affair, Michael West Media reported on what they dubbed the "Pork n Ride" program. The initial program was for 13 car parks that were all in Liberal held seats.[3]

At the time that the scheme was being rolled out, estimations of how much traffic would be freed up on the road was wildly overestimated by the government, and the construction would achieve little in terms of getting people on to public transport,[4] although the government claimed that it would make commuting by train easier for locals.[5]

The project then began cancelling some of the projects as it became apparent that the government had under-budgeted with their pre-election commitment.[6]

ANAO report edit

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) released a report on the scheme on 28 June 2021. They found that none of the 47 projects were determined by the department and that the awarding of the projects "was not to an appropriate standard" and was not merit based.[7]

It found that only two of the projects were completed and three had commenced construction almost two years after the federal election. There were also some projects that were cancelled only months after being announced, but after the May election.[8] It also noted that 64% of the projects were located in Victoria.

The report's conclusion stated that "it was not designed to be open or transparent."[9] In the Senate hearing, the ANAO said that the government started with a list of the top 20 marginals helped guide the allocation of funding.[10]

Fallout from the ANAO report edit

Surrey Hills railway station in Melbourne, Victoria.

In response to the report the Labor Party said that all funding should have a legitimate process and called the scheme "sports rorts on steroids".[11] Josh Burns said that in his electorate there was a site on the list in Balaclava that had already been set aside by the council for social housing, so could not be used for car parking, and that the council was not informed of the government's decision.[12][9] Shadow minister for infrastructure, Andrew Giles called it a "desperate attempt to save a marginal seat."[13]

One of the projects in Josh Frydenberg's electorate of Kooyong was set to be built in Surrey Hills, even though the station there was scheduled to be closed by the state government.[14]

It was noted that 77% of the projects were in Liberal held seats, while a further 10% were in electorates where the Liberal candidate's views were canvassed.

In the days following the report, experts were saying that infrastructure funding should have been concentrated more around Melbourne's western suburbs, while all the Melbourne projects were concentrated in the south and east.[13] The west contained Melbourne's most congested roads and the car parks were not being put where they were needed.

The projects were selected in private and announced by press release with electorates disproportionately favoured including Kooyong with 4 projects, Goldstein with 6 and La Trobe with 5,[15] with most of the sites being chosen by Angus Taylor and Josh Frydenberg.[16][17]

An investigation of the projects that had been completed showed that the Berwick project cost over three times the benchmark price at almost $115,000 per space. Stuart Norman from Parking Australia said that there was no logical reason for the costs to blow out to such a significant degree.[18]

In August, the Glen Eira decided to go back to consultation to decide whether to accept the money or not, calling the money 'tainted'.[19] In September, the Bayside council took similar steps to set up a consultation to determine if they wanted to accept the money from the government. Both Glen Eira and Bayside are in the Division of Goldstein, which was held by Tim Wilson of the Liberal party until the 2022 election.[20]

Deleted Pages edit

Following the details of the Car park rorts becoming public, members of the Liberal Party deleted some of the announcements from their social media pages. The projects that were known to have been cancelled were also deleted from the official Department of Infrastructure website. The removal of the pages from the Department of Infrastructure website can be viewed[by whom?] as unacceptable project governance, projects cancelled should remain visible with an updated project status to indicate it has been cancelled.

One of Michael Sukkars

Deleted Facebook[21]

One of Michael Sukkars

Deleted Facebook[21]

One of Michael Sukkars

Deleted Facebook[21]

Department of Infrastructure

Car Park Project Page Deleted[22]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "$121 million to bust congestion in east and south-east Melbourne | Prime Minister of Australia". Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  2. ^ "$300 million to bust congestion across Melbourne's growth areas". Josh Frydenberg. Retrieved 15 August 2021.
  3. ^ "Pork 'n 'Ride — another election-winning rort for the Coalition". Michael West Media. 14 February 2020. Retrieved 15 August 2021.
  4. ^ Legacy, Crystal; Stone, John; Pittman, Nathan; Clements, Rebecca. "$500m for station car parks? Other transport solutions could do much more for the money". The Conversation. Retrieved 15 August 2021.
  5. ^ "More than 370 new car parks promised for Elsternwick Village". Elsternwick Village. 24 August 2020. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  6. ^ Jacks, Timna (17 May 2021). "Morrison government pulls $50m promised for station car parks". The Age. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  7. ^ "Administration of Commuter Car Park Projects within the Urban Congestion Fund". 1 July 2020. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  8. ^ Karp, Paul (30 June 2021). "'Completely false': Victoria says Coalition can't blame state for commuter car park failure". the Guardian. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  9. ^ a b Johnson, Sian (28 June 2021). "Report highlights major issues with federal government's $660m pre-election car park spend". ABC News. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  10. ^ "'Almost like a menu': List of marginal seats guided government's $660m car park project, audit office says". SBS News. Retrieved 17 August 2021.
  11. ^ Butler, Josh (28 June 2021). "'Car park rorts' is 'sports rorts on sterioids' as government grants queryed". The New Daily. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  12. ^ Karp, Paul (29 June 2021). "Government committed millions to commuter car parks that could never be built, Labor says". the Guardian. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  13. ^ a b Tomazin, Farrah (1 July 2021). "Costs blow out on Coalition parking projects funded without full scoping". The Age. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  14. ^ Booker, Shane Wright, Katina Curtis, Chloe (23 July 2021). "Treasurer promised car park for a train station that soon won't exist". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 27 July 2021. Retrieved 17 August 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  15. ^ Curtis, Katina; Wright, Shane; Booker, Chloe (23 July 2021). "Stopping all marginal seats: A Melbourne guide to the car parks controversy". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 27 July 2021. Retrieved 17 August 2021.
  16. ^ Crowe, David; Curtis, Katina (30 June 2021). "'Really bad practice': Car park project chosen by Morrison press release". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 16 September 2021. Retrieved 17 August 2021.
  17. ^ Karp, Paul (20 July 2021). "Angus Taylor and Josh Frydenberg's offices chose sites for commuter car parks". the Guardian. Retrieved 17 August 2021.
  18. ^ Karp, Paul (6 July 2021). "'Ludicrous': Coalition paid $115,000 a space for car park in Melbourne". the Guardian. Retrieved 17 August 2021.
  19. ^ Wright, Shane; Curtis, Katina (11 August 2021). "Wilson's council claims car park money 'tainted', goes back to consultation". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 28 May 2023. Retrieved 17 August 2021.
  20. ^ Jacks, Timna (13 September 2021). "Federal government's car parking scheme leads to council division". The Age. Retrieved 13 September 2021.
  21. ^ a b c Sullivan, Harry (20 July 2020). "Car Park Rorts Deleted Page". Twitter. Archived from the original on 20 July 2021. Retrieved 15 September 2021.
  22. ^ "Project Details". 9 March 2021. Archived from the original on 9 March 2021. Retrieved 15 September 2021.