Hans Lovejoy, editor
Have you been put over a barrell? One full of pork?
Pork barrelling has emerged again in the news, this time in state politics.
And it is worth having a closer look, given it appeared to influence the 2019 federal election too.
Put simply, pork barrelling is where certain electorates are favoured by politicans with cash (grants, infrastructure projects etc) to curry favour.
It’s nothing new – The Rudd/Gillard government had its Regional Development Australia Fund. The Howard Government had its Regional Partnerships Program. The Keating government had a Community, Cultural, Recreational and Sporting Facilities Program. The most brazen is of course the Morrison government’s Community Sport Infrastructure Program.
According to SMH (Nine), NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian said last week that pork barrelling is ‘not illegal’, and ‘part of the political process’.
Her comments came after it emerged the allocation of the $250 million Stronger Communities Grants fund favoured Liberal and National Party electorates.
Despite being legal, it is embarrassing to be found out; her office shredded documents at the centre of the inquiry into the grants fund, which were later recovered by her office.
It’s questionable though, how ethical the practice is, given it is essentially a bribe.
Are we being well governed if politicians buy the elections?
Yet electorates such as this – the Ballina electorate comprising Byron and Ballina shires – have benefitted from pork barrelling.
A very ambitious Nationals MLC seemed to have convinced his political masters in Sydney that showering us in funding promises would get him the job. It didn’t at the last election, but that doesn’t seem to have discouraged him.
Pork barrelling is a form of control that politicians shouldn’t have over voters. The governing elite already have way too much power over everyone else.
And they will always want more, and MORE.
Fun fact: The NSW Nationals leader, John Barilaro, proudly calls himself ‘Pork Barilaro’.
Let’s go one further – the likes of Barilaro are PIGs – People In Government. You can tell a PIG because their skin is ham coloured. The complexion and weak bone structure of pork barrellers is a result of a lifetime in office spaces and meetings. And the only way to deal with porkers is to send them to the abattoir at election time.