Australia: Former judge labels $660 million car park fund ‘corruption’

A former supreme court judge has labelled the federal government’s $660 million car park fund “corruption” amid warnings that ministers may have breached laws that required them to spend taxpayer funds in an efficient and ethical way.

The damning assessments heighten the debate about decisions by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and key ministers to choose the car park locations in the lead-up to the last election, with 77 per cent of the projects located in Coalition seats.

The Auditor-General revealed the “inadequate assessment” of the projects in June and a parliamentary inquiry grilled department officials over the program this week, leading former Victorian Supreme Court judge David Harper, QC, to warn about the misuse of public funds.

“The commuter car parks program certainly appears to be an instance of taxpayers’ money being spent not after an assessment of greatest need but rather with a view to advancing the interests of the government,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

“On any appropriate definition of corruption, this is an instance of it; and it should be called out as such.”

Mr Harper served on the Supreme Court from 1992 to 2013, was awarded an Order of Australia in 2008 and is an advocate for a national integrity commission to improve accountability in government.

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