A grants system responsible for distributing about $4 billion a year across New South Wales is set to undergo a series of changes, including an emphasis on public transparency.
A review conducted by the Prime Minister and Cabinet Office and published on Saturday makes 19 recommendations, including more open and honest communication around the distribution of grants following pork barrel allegations.
Last year, Premier Dominic Perrottet ordered a review of grant programs across the state after controversy surrounding his predecessor Gladys Berejiklian’s appearance on the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Among the review’s recommendations are that all new grants have published guidelines stating “the purpose of the grant, clear selection criteria, and details on the application and review process.”
Grant information must be made available on a publicly accessible website and, in addition, all grants “must have a funding agreement” making recipients accountable for how they spend public funds.
Mr Perrottet said the government was “carefully considering” the proposed changes, which were drawn up in partnership with NSW Productivity Commissioner Peter Achterstraat.
“Grants are an important part of how the government supports communities and individuals – from COVID responses, to sports fields, to flood recovery, to helping small businesses – it’s an important way that we are working to deliver results for the people of NSW,” the Premier said.
“But all grants are ultimately publicly funded, so it’s critical that we also ensure they are administered fairly, efficiently and transparently.”
The 125-page report notes that its intention is to ensure value for money for taxpayers.
“The New South Wales government typically spends around $4 billion a year in grants to invest in community programs, projects and infrastructure; provide targeted support to business and industry; and fund community development activities. research and development.”
In recent years, additional grants worth billions of dollars have been made available to people and businesses affected by COVID-19, natural disasters and drought.
Australian Associated Press