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A spreadsheet of marginal electorates that was used to promise railway station car parks to voters as part of a $660 million program could only have come out of the offices of former infrastructure minister Alan Tudge or Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
As part of a Freedom of Information request by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age for documents relating to the contentious program, the federal Infrastructure Department has revealed it did not hold the spreadsheet which is known to exist.
Ringwood train station in Melbourne is among the 47 sites the Morrison government chose for commuter car park upgrades in a scheme now slammed by the Auditor-General.CREDITAUL JEFFERS
Mr Tudge has denied knowledge of the spreadsheet that came to light in a parliamentary hearing last month. The car park fund was created ahead of the 2019 election and used to promise a string of projects, mostly in south-eastern Melbourne and parts of Sydney.
A scathing audit of the program found there were no criteria for judging the merit of projects and 77 per cent of the car parks initially funded were in Coalition seats.
Deputy Auditor-General Brian Boyd told the Senate hearing a “marginal electorate list” was shared between the offices of then-urban infrastructure minister Mr Tudge and Mr Morrison as part of the process to decide where to build the car parks.
Responding to the FOI request, Infrastructure Department first assistant secretary Philip Smith said 10 documents matching the application had been found.
But nothing similar to a spreadsheet about marginal electorates could be found within the department.
“An IT search was undertaken in order to locate any possibly relevant departmental documents, created between 1 September 2018 and 10 April 2019, that contained spreadsheets and attachments containing key words “top 20 marginals” and/or “top marginals” as they related to the Urban Congestion Fund and/or the Commuter Car Park Fund,” he said.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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