The federal government's Building Better Regions Fund has steered $19 million to Barnaby Joyce's New England electorate in the past four years while distributing just $30,000 to Labor-held Paterson.
An ACM analysis shows the fund has heavily favoured Coalition seats bordering the Hunter region since it began in 2017-18.
The former Nationals leader's constituents in New England have received 19 BBRF grants while voters in the safe Labor seat of Paterson have received one.
The Newcastle electorate has won a single $1.42 million grant and Shortland $2.24 million. Joel Fitzgibbon's seat of Hunter has fared relatively well, receiving $8.6 million, but still not as much as the $10.1 million handed to Nationals MP David Gillespie's Lyne electorate.
The four safe Labor electorates have received a combined $12.3 million, about 1.46 per cent of the $841 million allocated under the BBRF, despite holding about 7.5 per cent of Australia's regional population.
ACM reported this month that another federal funding program, Community Development Grants, had allocated $28.7 million of taxpayers' money to New England, $22.4 million to Lyne and nothing to Newcastle and Shortland. Paterson had received $193,000 and Hunter $15,000 for a footpath.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, whose Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development department oversees both programs, was forced to defend the BBRF in February after a Fairfax analysis showed it had allocated 94 per cent of grants to Coalition or marginal seats in a funding round before the 2019 federal election.
Unlike the invitation-only CDG, which the government concedes is a slush fund for election promises, the BBRF is a competitive grants program where applications are weighed against criteria.
Mr McCormack did not respond directly to questions from ACM, but a spokesperson defended the BBRF as an "open, transparent and competitive grant opportunity".
"All applications received were assessed by the department against the eligibility and assessment criteria detailed in the guidelines," the spokesperson said.
The most recent BBRF funding round targeted drought-affected communities, but previous allocations were available to all regions outside the state capitals.
In four years, the Hunter electorate has received $1.25 million for tourism signage in the vineyards, $5 million for the Crusader Union religious group to build a recreation centre at Balcolyn, $1.95 million for a cycleway between Greta and Branxton, and $306,000 to upgrade Singleton's regional livestock market.
In Newcastle, the House With No Steps at Warabrook received $1.42 million to upgrade its commercial laundry. Lake Macquarie City Council received $2.2 million towards the Munibung Road extension inside the seat of Shortland.
Paterson received $30,000 for Early Links Inclusion Support Service to run a staff leadership and support program in Ashtonfield.
Among the big-ticket items to win the BBRF's approval in New England and Lyne are $8 million for an Anglican Care village at Gloucester, $2.8 million for Scone's saleyards, $1.4 million for Tamworth regional tennis centre, $1.3 million for a netball centre in Glenn Innes, $2.6 million for a water treatment plant in Tenterfield, $2.3 million for a hydrotherapy centre in Armidale, $2.5 million for saleyards in Inverell, and $2.35 million for an Aboriginal health centre in Inverell.
Mr McCormack's spokesperson reiterated that the Hunter had shared in other infrastructure spending under the Coalition, including $140 million from the Roads of Strategic Importance program for the Tenterfield to Newcastle corridor, three quarters of which runs through Mr Joyce's electorate.
The Hunter had also received $30 million under the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program and Bridges Renewal Program; more than $21.6 million in Roads to Recovery funding; and $9 million for border services at Newcastle Airport.
Paterson MP Meryl Swanson said the BBRF was public money that "should be distributed fairly".
"The list of grant schemes this government has used for their own political purposes just keeps growing," she said.
"In round three, my electorate of Paterson received only $30,000 out of the possible $197 million announced in the months before the last election.
"If this government was serious about making our regions better and stronger, I can think of no better place than the Hunter to make real investment."
Mr Fitzgibbon called on Mr McCormack to include the Hunter in $1.5 billion of new regional roads funding he announced this month.
"We have not yet seen the final list of allocations, but the Hunter needs funding of the Singleton bypass, Muswellbrook bypass, Cessnock ring road and the Glendale interchange," he said.
"The Coalition government is in its seventh year, and over the last couple of years we've seen a whole range of programs which have been turned into pork-barreling exercises by this government.
"So let's hope that the projects that do receive funding are funded on merit rather than in the interests of the Liberal-National Party."