Nearly half-a-million taxpayer dollars for community garden while Nowra gets neglected

Nearly half-a-million taxpayer dollars for community garden while Nowra gets neglected: Gilmore  Greens Candidate calls out ‘obscene’ pork-barrelling 

“A single community garden in the marginal seat of Gilmore, that was granted nearly half-a-million  taxpayers’ dollars, is scraping the absolute bottom of the pork-barrel,” Greens candidate Carmel  McCallum has declared. 

Gilmore Greens candidate Carmel McCallum says there is a “small” community garden project in the  marginal seat that received $407,000 in a closed non-competitive approval by the Department of  Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications. Another $4,748 was granted  as Open Competitive, from the Department of Social Services. 

“This single community project was given an obscene amount of taxpayer dollars without an  application or any due diligence. There is simply no fairness in that,” Ms McCallum said. 

“There are many community organisations in Nowra which would have loved a share of that. 

“Community gardens are great initiatives and grow community spirit as well as healthy food and  beautiful flowers, but that much money for a single project is obscene and unfair pork-barrelling.” 

Ms McCallum said the federal Liberal government’s decision to award its political party’s supporters  with an over-generous and unequal grant smacks of the very grubby behaviour that warrants the  kind of investigation only an independent Commonwealth integrity commission could bring. 

Ms McCallum declared that the evidence for her assertion is available on the Australian Government  Grant Connect website. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison shut down debate on Helen Haines’ federal integrity bill in November  2021, which had support from The Greens, Labor and other crossbenchers, and had already passed  the senate. 

“No wonder Australians don’t have any faith in politicians and cannot believe how far the standards  in the Parliament have slipped,” Ms McCallum said. 

“The Morrison government’s reluctance to table even its own weak integrity bill raises suspicions  that there is much to hide.” 

Callala Community Garden project – Grant Award View – GA77476 
https://www.grants.gov.au/Ga/Show/08d41659-e490-0920-cc29-dc22b7ada80a

Waiting for a solar powered bus that won’t come to Nowra 

An electric bus trial was conducted from February to June in 2019, started just before the state  election, and ran until just after the federal election. The trial, using a Chinese-made Yutong bus, ran  from Bomaderry to Kiama and was initiated by the NSW Department of Transport. 

Andrew Constance was NSW Transport Minister at the time. 

“I coincidentally attended the launch at Bomaderry station. Member for Kiama Gareth Ward and  Member for South Coast Shelley Hancock were there, as were the King family, owners of the Nowra  bus company Premier Transport Group, known locally as Nowra Coaches,” Ms McCallum said. 

“The Nowra bus company has two sheds covered in solar panels, presumably to charge the bus. 

“But questions remain unanswered about who paid for these panels, and if it was through a state funded trial grant, then why after three years is there no report, and no obligation to return any  benefit to the community. It reeks of cronyism,” Ms McCallum said. 

Andrew Constance has a record of privatising publicly-owned transport and massive cost over-runs  in infrastructure projects. 

As Transport Minister he hid all his bad decisions and financial losses in the Transport Asset Holding  Entity (TAHE), a shell company, to make the NSW budget look better by billions. This was launched  on 1st July, 2015, so would have been in the drafting for some time. 

Andrew Constance was Treasurer from 23rd April 2014 until 2nd April, 2015. He was also Finance  and Services Minister over the same period. 

This literal budget blackhole was launched in July 2015, under Premier Mike Baird, when Mr  Constance was the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure and Minister for Industrial Relations.  

Examples of Andrew Constance’s work history as Minister for Transport: 

• Buses on demand trial at more than $180 per passenger per trip and a cost of $7 million  over six months, contracted to Transdev, formerly Veolia Transdev, a French multinational,  which operates public transport.  https://www.theleader.com.au/story/5485311/updated-constance-defends-on-demand buses-after-labor-attack/ 

• Almost $60 Million in state government contracts to the King family, Premier Coaches in  Nowra: $20 million contract for outer metropolitan bus services and another $39.9 million  for regional charter service. 
https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7734115/bus-company-received-contracts before-constance-push/

• Inner West Light Rail Extension Cost $31 million/km. 
https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/cost-of-running-sydneys-new-lightrail-line-blows out-by-70-to-938-million-20161209-gt7gjl.html 

• Sydney Trains paid $2.3 billion to a South Korean company, before spending millions more  to widen tunnels and resize stations because the trains were the wrong size, despite being  warned by NSW Auditor-General that costs would blow out to $3.9billion. 
https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/new-intercity-trains-too-wide-for-rail-line-to stations-in-blue-mountains-20161005-grvmns.html

• Treasurer when the 12 km Sydney Light Rail was initiated; originally costed at $1.1 billion for  construction by Spanish company Acciona, but a $576 million out-of-court settlement by the  company led to the final project blow-out of $3 billion. 
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-06-03/sydney-light-rail-bill-passes3-billion-as-compo settled/11172434 

• Transdev-operated Emerald-Class Ferries, Chinese-built to run from Circular Quay to Manly  Cove, could be retrofitted with low emission battery technology, but at what cost? The cost  of leasing the new ferries is part of the $1.3 billion contract awarded to French company  Transdev in February 2019, and includes the cost of operating Sydney Ferries only for the  next nine years. 
https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/new-sydney-ferries-will-only-operate-when-the sun-is-up-20210804-p58fu5.html 

• 10 Transdev-operated, Indonesian-built, River-Class Ferries, with more than 43 defects,  including being too high to fit under two Parramatta River bridges, stalling in reverse,  asbestos and can only be utilised in daylight hours due to the ferry’s bridge windshield  faults. 
https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/more-than-40-defects-discovered-in-new-sydney harbour-ferries-20220116-p59omj.html 

• Toxic site at Camellia for trains, valued by NSW VG at $15.5 million in late 2020, but  purchased by NSW Government for $53.5 million in May 2021, plus an estimated $100  million to rehabilitate. The land was owned by Billbergia, the biggest waterfront property  developer in Sydney and Brisbane, which had bought it seven months earlier for $38 million.
https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/the-secret-53m-sydney-land-deal-that-has-left nsw-taxpayers-with-an-even-bigger-clean-up-bill-20201111-p56drh.html 

[ENDS] 

For further details or media interviews, please contact Carmel on 0414 392 660 or email:  carmelforgilmore@gmail.com.

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