Senior Labor stalwarts are convinced they smell a rat burrowed among multi-billion dollar infrastructure and housing kitties being bankrolled by Australian taxpayers.
Veteran Labor senator Doug Cameron, interrogating Treasury officials during a Senate hearing, accused the coalition of squirrelling away $1 billion earmarked for housing supply relief into a slush fund.
Senator Cameron has heard allocations for loans, investments and grants from the National Housing Infrastructure Facility weren't set in stone and appeared to differ to how they were laid out in the budget papers.
"It became clear the government's proposal ... was nothing but a $1 billion slush fund for the coalition," he told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.
Almost in unison, on the opposite side of Parliament House, former treasurer Wayne Swan reached the same conclusion about a $5 billion public loan scheme for northern Australian infrastructure projects.
Mr Swan is certain the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility is purely and simply a National Party slush fund, devoid of the normal checks and balances usually tied to government financial corporations.
Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan had unprecedented powers of the supervision and allocation of the money, and over the facility's board, Mr Swan said.
"Basically, there are no checks and balances at all over this fund, which means Minister Canavan can do whatever he wants with the money," he said.
He compared the minister's relationship with Indian mining giant Adani, looking to build a coal mine in remote central Queensland, with ties between Kerry Packer and disgraced tycoon Alan Bond, from whom he made a fortune.
"I think it was Kerry Packer who once said that there's only ever one Alan Bond. Well, I think Mr Adani knows there's only ever one Matt Canavan," Mr Swan said.
The former treasurer argued the Carmichael mine should stand or fall on its merits, rather than benefiting from inadequately supervised funds free of any independent controls.
"And most particular, no supervision of the finance department, which is the final check for the people of Australia to ensure our taxpayer funds are spent correctly," he said.