Barnaby Joyce denies pork-barrelling in New England electorate with community grants

WORKING HARD: Barnaby Joyce said his electorate got more of the pie because of hard work and representation. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
WORKING HARD: Barnaby Joyce said his electorate got more of the pie because of hard work and representation. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

NEW England received nearly $17m in community grants in the government’s past term, leading to calls of pork barrelling from Labor –  but local MP Barnaby Joyce says it’s not pork-barrelling, it’s hard work.

According to figures obtained by Labor, the Deputy Prime Minister’s electorate received 13 per cent of the NSW’s entire community grant income from 2013 to the 2016 election.

Across the state, there was a 37 to one ratio – or $132m to $3.5m – of spending in Coalition electorates compared to Labor-held electorates.

However, Mr Joyce rejected the allegations of pork-barrelling.

“It is true that the Nationals deliver more infrastructure and more services for the regions than Labor ever has or ever would,” he said.

“But that’s not pork-barrelling. Instead it’s about making sure regional Australia, and places like New England, get their fair share of government funding. I don’t apologise for that.

“That’s called working and representing, not pork-barrelling.”

Mr Joyce said while he and the Nationals were focused on delivering funding for regional areas, Bill Shorten and Labor had just three policies.

“All Labor wants to talk about is gay marriage; telling us that Captain Cook and Governor Macquarie were such bad people we should change their statues; and they want to change Australia Day,” he said.

“That is the extent of Shorten and Labor’s policies. Meanwhile members of parliament for the Nationals are working to get more jobs to the regions through decentralisation and funding major water, roads and rail projects to bring more jobs to our areas.”

Last week, Labor accused Mr Joyce of back-room planning for a New England by-election as the High Court’s hearing of his dual New Zealand citizenship drew closer – an allegation Mr Joyce denied.

Shadow Regional Development Minister Anthony Albanese said the government had recently called tenders for three projects on the New England Hwy – the Bolivia Hill upgrade and the Tenterfield and Scone bypasses – despite funding being allocated years ago.