John Barilaro has suddenly quit politics, leaving many to suspect that he’ll soon be investigated by the ICAC.
Well, the other shoe has not so much dropped, but rather fallen off the foot, and clanged down a set of tin stairs. John Barilaro has quit, tendering his resignation, leaving many to suspect that he’ll soon be involved in the ICAC investigation that felled his boss. In a press release, Barilaro noted that now “is the right time for me to hand the reins over to new leadership, and resign as Deputy Premier of NSW.
Back in February, John Barilaro defended the government’s allocation of bushfire relief funding to Coalition-held seats, saying to an inquiry into pork barrelling that the reason Labor seats didn’t get funding, is because they weren’t ready. The Blue Mountains mayor, Mark Greenhill called bullshit, claiming that numerous projects were “carefully thought-out” and “shovel-ready projects”.
As The Guardian noted at the time, “The NSW parliamentary committee is investigating the “integrity, efficacy and value for money” of NSW government grant programs, and has previously heard that money from the $252m Stronger Communities fund went overwhelmingly to Coalition-held seats and the documents show only Coalition MPs were consulted. Last year the state’s premier, Gladys Berejiklian, conceded that $140m in grant money given to councils in the lead-up to the last state election amounted to pork barrelling, but insisted there was nothing illegal about it. The inquiry previously heard that her office had shredded documents associated with the fund.”
Barilaro, who has favourably adopted the nickname John Pork–Barrel-aro, also defended the practice, saying he was “sick to death of the mistruths spun about pork barrelling”.
“If we fund a government seat, it’s a rort,” he said. “If we fund a non-government seat, it’s only because we want to win them at the next election.”
While he admitted that shredding documents “does not give confidence to anybody”, Barilaro argued that what others call “pork barrelling” is actually an “investment” in the regions.
“It’s a name that I’ve never distanced myself from because I’m actually proud of … what it represents,” he told the committee.
“What we call pork barrelling is investment … I dare you to turn up to these communities and tell them why they don’t deserve these projects.
“When you think about it, every single election that every party goes to, we make commitments. You want to call that pork barrelling, you want to call that buying votes, it’s what the elections are for.”
As one user on Twitter put it, “You’d think that the number of politicians quitting because of corruption commissions would be an argument for more corruption commissions.”