NSW government tightens rules to curb pork barrelling

·2-min read
Steven Saphore/AAP PHOTOS

The days of pork barrelling in NSW could be numbered, as the Minns government tightens rules around how taxpayer funds are spent by ministers and government staff.

Ministers in NSW can now only approve grants that are an "efficient, effective, economical and ethical" use of taxpayer funds, after government legislation passed in the lower house on Thursday.

The bill, which amends a series of acts, creates a stricter environment for ministers and government staff doling out grants.

The new laws also mean details of those grants must be made publicly available on a centralised website.

Amendments to the bill from One Nation include that ministers must publish cost-benefit data and the studies used to approve or deny grant applications online.

Public servants will have to keep in mind key principles of proportionality, probity and sensitivity, Premier Chris Minns said when introducing the bill earlier this month.

"The blatant pork barrelling and politicisation of public money needed to end," he said.

"This bill delivers on our commitment to lift standards."

Earlier this year, a report from the NSW Auditor-General found the former coalition government intervened to effectively exclude Labor electorates from receiving bushfire recovery funding.

Another grants round, the $252 million Stronger Communities Fund, came under a cloud when an upper house inquiry found 95 per cent of the funds went to councils in coalition-held or marginal seats under the Berejiklian government.

Special Minister of State John Graham has previously said governments need to respect taxpayer funds.

"The disrespect of public money shown by our predecessors was a disgrace," Mr Graham said.

"Under the last government, firefighters in a Labor electorate were denied a grant, while a skydiving adventure park in a Nationals seat received millions of dollars."

"The politicisation of disaster relief funding by the NSW Liberals and Nationals was one of the lowest points in Australian politics."