‘$252m slush fund’ documents contradict Gladys
Government documents provided to a parliamentary committee show Premier Gladys Berejiklian was directly asked to sign off on tens of millions of dollars in funding for councils in Liberal-held electorates under a grants scheme Labor and the Greens have labelled a "slush fund".
The documents contradict Ms Berejiklian's previous claim that a government department, not politicians, was responsible for approving the grants.
A policy adviser to the Premier has previously told a parliamentary committee that Ms Berejiklian signed off on funding for a list of projects.
After the Premier had ticked off on the money, documents outlining the approval process were shredded and deleted, the policy adviser told the committee.
Copies of the so-called "working advice notes" which were deleted have now been recovered, recommending the Premier "approve the proposed funding" for a list of projects.
The documents contained space for the Premier's comments, with space to circle: "Approved/Noted/Not Approved".
The document provided to the premier states "the PLO (parliamentary liaison office) team has consulted with local members and has pulled together the list of open spaces projects in Table 1 for your approval". The projects outlined amounted to $23.1m.
The Premier last month stated that she was one of three ministers that "signed off on the guidelines" but denied she had direct approval for allocating money.
"It's up to the Department of Local Government to manage all that," she said in October.
The documents contradict Ms Berejiklian's statement at the time in which she said: "it is not for the Premier or the relevant Minister, for every single grant that's done, to sign off on every single dollar that goes out, that's not how it works".
One document, outlining a list of proposed projects, also states that the Premier needed to sign off on new guidelines "to enable this funding to go out".
The document recommended the Premier "sign the attached brief approving the updated funding guidelines".
The documents were provided to parliament's Public Accountability Committee which has been pressuring Ms Berejiklian to explain how hundreds of millions of dollars were given to government electorates under the Stronger Communities Fund program.
Committee Chair and Greens MP David Shoebridge, said the Premier has been "ducking and weaving" trying to avoid responsibility for the program.
"Now we see in black and white that she was at the very centre of it and approved over $140 million of these grants," he said.
"This appears to be a secret $252m slush fund that was only available to government MPs in the nine months lead up to the state election."
Originally published as '$252m slush fund' documents contradict Gladys