Car park cash 'sports rorts on steroids'

·2-min read

Australia's urban infrastructure minister has been forced to defend a commuter car park program described as "sports rorts on steroids".

A scathing auditor-general's report has found the coalition scheme was not effective or merit-based.

Not one of the 47 commuter car park sites promised by the coalition at the 2019 election was selected by the infrastructure department.

At least $660 million was allocated to hand-picked projects in Liberal-held or marginal seats.

Labor frontbencher Andrew Giles is shocked by the auditor's findings.

"We knew this was a project that had been rorted but the report exposes a scale that is quite shocking," he told ABC radio.

"This really is sports rorts on an industrial scale.

"What we see here is evidence of a government desperate to buy votes before an election, heedless of the consequences of that."

Senior ministers selected projects based on consultations with coalition MPs and candidates, with spreadsheets sent to the prime minister's office.

More than three-quarters of the commuter car park sites were in coalition-held seats.

Almost two-thirds of the projects were located in Melbourne despite Sydney being identified as having most of the nation's congested roads.

Taxpayers forked out $5.4 million for a road intersection project in Western Australia with a cost-benefit ratio of 0.03, or three cents for every dollar spent.

The auditor-general found the projects were not based on need and the program was poorly administered.

Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher has defended the politically skewed pre-election cash splash.

"The process we went through was that ministers, elected officials, made decisions about the delivery of infrastructure projects," Mr Fletcher said.

"The great majority of these projects we took to the 2019 election, and so we came to government with the authority of an election."

Only 11 per cent of the promised sites had started construction by March this year.

Just two of the car parks have been completed.

The program follows a similar pattern to other schemes administered by the Morrison government.

These include the sports rorts scandal, female change room fund and better regions scheme.

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