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Regional development grants went to cities

More than half of the federal government’s regional development grants awarded since 2018 went to postcodes classified as major city areas.

They represented $624 million or 27 per cent of the total value of the grants from the start of 2018 until June 30 this year.

The Australian National Audit Office analysed government grant awards or opportunities posted to its GrantConnect portal during that time.

Of the 6668 grants awarded, 3682 went to postcodes classified as major city areas.

Going by grant value, $860 million or 37 per cent of the total funding was awarded to inner regional areas.

Areas classified as being outer regional received $521 million or 23 per cent of the money.

A combined eight per cent of the total grant value, or $161 million, was allocated to remote or very remote areas.

Looking at the value of all 108,206 grants published, 42 per cent were awarded through a closed non-competitive tender process.

Labor has used the data to further its attack on the coalition, under fire for pork-barrelling via the Building Better Regions Fund and commuter car park funding.

“The Morrison-Joyce government talks a big game when it comes to regional development, but these figures show that they continually favour projects based in the major cities,” opposition infrastructure spokeswoman Catherine King said.

A Labor analysis earlier showed $218 million or nearly 73 per cent of the fifth round of the Building Better Regions Fund went to coalition seats.

When non-coalition marginal seats were factored in, the figure rose to 88 per cent.

The government has defended the funding as addressing the disparity in investment between capital cities and regional Australia.

In the lead up to the 2019 election, the government used a list of “top 20 marginals” to guide its $660 million fund for car parks at train stations.

The auditor-general found the fund was poorly administered and projects were not based on need.

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