Pork barrelling not that useful: study

·1-min read

Pork barrelling isn't nearly as useful as politicians tend to think.

That's the finding of a study co-authored by a Labor MP into federal sports grants worth $100 million.

The paper with the Australian National University found the program, funnelled into coalition and marginal seats, had virtually no electoral effect.

"Contrary to our expectations, we find virtually no electoral impact of the grants," ANU political science professor Ian McAllister and Labor frontbencher Andrew Leigh said in the peer-reviewed paper published in the journal Political Studies.

"Those electorates that received more sporting grant funding were no more likely to swing in favour of the government in the 2019 election than electorates that received no funding.

"A straw poll of members of the House of Representatives suggests one possible explanation as to why pork-barrelling persists: parliamentarians tend to overestimate its electoral impact."

The auditor-general last year found the so-called sports rorts saga favoured coalition and marginal seats.

It prompted sports minister Bridget McKenzie to quit cabinet.

She spent nearly 18 months on the backbench before returning under Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce.

The sports rorts saga has helped fuel calls for a national anti-corruption body with teeth.

The government has promised to legislate a Commonwealth Integrity Commission this term, but early drafts have been criticised for being too soft.

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