The Auditor-General's report on the abuses of the Regional Partnerships Scheme is very revealing (if only you have the energy to wade through the 3 volumes of abuses of procedure):
- Buried in Volume 3 of the 1000+ page report are details of some of the companies that received public money in the form of Regional Partnerships funding.
- One of the least - on the face of it - deserving recipients was applicant RP00908, Teys Bros, operators of network of abattoirs and a feedlot. While the Teys Bros group has an annual turnover in excess of $A1 billion, their Rockhampton plant had been closed since 2002 after extended industrial disputation rendered it unprofitable. In March 2004, the Rockhampton business sought $A660,000 of regional partnerships (including GST) to upgrade and reopen the meatworks.
- The ANAO report indicates that at the time the Teys Bros' Rocky meatworks was cap in hand seeking public funding, it was a company ultimately controlled by Consolidated Press International Holdings Pty Ltd, a company at the time controlled by Mr Kerry Packer (RIP).
It gets worse. The funds were not recommended by the Department, as the plan did not meet the criteria. When funds were aproved there were conditions attached (an external review was required). But when the Parliamentary Secretary advised the Packer company of the grant, she forgot/omitted/did not bother (take your pick of verbs) to include this condition in the terms of the approval.
An existing company with a financial interest objected to the grant (as it was outside the criteria to award a grant when it would disadvantage an existing business). That letter was ignored.
The litany of abuses of correct procedures just goes on and on and on.
In normal circumstances, criminal charged might be considered warranted.
Let us hope that the people of Australia cast their own verdict next Saturday.