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Dear Gladys, just because pork-barrelling isn’t “illegal” doesn’t mean it’s not corrupt

Gladys Berejiklian has admitted to using government money to win over votes but says it’s ok because technically it’s legal.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has given yet another case for her resignation after she admitted that the distribution of a $140 million grant scheme was an act of pork-barrelling. The scheme in question saw $90 million distributed to the Liberal’s Hornsby Council and exactly $0 to the Inner West.

Even more astoundingly, the premier has gone on to justify the move, claiming that it’s not something “unique” to her government.

gladys berejiklian pork-barrelling
Photo: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

The grants were part of a larger $252 million Stronger Communities fund, of which last month it was revealed that more than 95% went to Liberal and National-held seats. Following this, documents pertaining to the grants were shredded under Gladys Berejiklian’s watch (as of yesterday the documents were recovered and handed over to parliament).

If you’re not familiar with the term pork-barreling, basically it’s where politicians commandeer government funds for projects which are intended to please voters – and in turn, win votes.

After examining the shredded documents, which confirm that Gladys Berejiklian was directly involved in the approval of the $140 million allocated in the nine-month lead up to the state election, the premier has conceded that it amounts to pork-barrelling.

“It’s not something the community likes…but it’s an accusation I will wear,” she said.

Yet in apparent justification of the practice, she went on to allege that “it’s not unique to our government” and that “[pork-barrelling] is not an illegal practice.”

“Unfortunately, it does happen from time to time by every government,” she continued.

Whilst pork-barrelling may not be illegal, it’s considered highly corrupt.

Out of the money in question, $90 million was given to the Liberal seat of Hornsby, whilst the Inner West received nothing. Mayor Darcy Byrne has claimed that the Inner West should have received $24 million, which could have gone towards a new local library.

Despite the shredded documents confirming her involvement in the approval of the grants, Gladys Berejiklian has attempted to further distance herself from the decisions – claiming that she was, in fact, not involved in their approval.

“I was consulted and I was provided advice, so were other ministers. But the Office of Local Government was responsible for getting the dollars to councils,” she described.

Between her relationship with disgraced MP Daryl Maguire, and narrowly escaping being referred to ICAC (not to mention breaking her own COVID-19 guidelines and waging war against koalas), Gladys Berejiklian is truly treading on the thinnest of ice.