Tas Liberals state election grants probed

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A parliamentary inquiry will investigate the Tasmanian Liberal government’s funding of campaign pledges after criticizing a lack of transparency.

Right-to-Know documents recently revealed that the state government allocated $2.47 million to 111 projects in a way that was not subject to parliamentary scrutiny.

The funds, pledged ahead of the 2021 ballot, were disbursed through a process approved by the state’s governor using laws designed for unforeseen emergency expenses.

The state government defended the process as valid and legal under the Financial Management Act.

On Friday, the state’s public accounts committee announced it would investigate the use of the law to fund campaign pledges.

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Michael Ferguson, along with Department of Treasury and Finance Secretary Tony Ferrall, will testify at a public hearing on Monday.

State Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said people have a right to know why millions of dollars of public money have been spent without parliamentary oversight.

“The more information that is uncovered about Liberal election madness, the worse the situation becomes,” she said in a statement.

“Many more serious questions remain and we hope this investigation will find answers.”

Sports and Community Services Minister Nic Street was forced to correct the parliamentary record this week after providing incorrect answers during a hearing on the Estimates.

Mr Street told the hearing that the funds in question had been identified, funded and approved by Parliament.

Concerns have also been raised about the state’s Liberal government giving grants to community organizations with ties to party members.

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