Role of PM’s office in car park saga could go before inquiry

Exclusive: The role of the Prime Minister's office in the controversial commuter car parks program could be examined as part of a parliamentary inquiry.

The Greens are seeking to refer the fund, and the much broader Urban Congestion program, to the Finance and Public Administration References Committee.

The motion from Senator Janet Rice is expected to be put to a vote in the senate tomorrow afternoon and would require the support of Labor and the crossbench to proceed.

The motion will ask the committee to inquire into:

  1. The allocation of funding under the National Commuter Car Park fund
  2. Whether the administration of the UCF (Urban Congestion Fund) meets the highest standards of governance
  3. The role of the offices of Minister(S), the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister
  4. The extent to which the management of the fund respected the caretaker convention and:
  5. The funds impact in reducing congestion

The auditor-general was scathing in its review of the Commuter Car Park fund.

It found 77 per cent of projects went to Coalition seats and heavily favoured Melbourne electorates with multiple projects for the seat of Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and now-Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar.

Greens Senators Janet Rice. Picture:  Alex Ellinghausen

Last year, 9News revealed the entire $4 billion Urban Congestion Fund heavily favoured projects in seats the Morrison Government held or wanted to win.

Last week Prime Minister Scott Morrison was asked what role he had in the commuter car park program.

"The Ministers made the decisions on these programs," Mr Morrison said.

The Prime Minister also did not answer directly if he had seen a list of "top 20 marginals" that the audit office told a senate estimates hearing one had been drawn up in the lead-up to the 2019 election.

"In lieu of a public call for applications, where you've got a large number of competing applications to compare against, it was already a narrowed down process," the ANAO's Brian Boyd said last month.

Then-Urban Infrastructure Minister Alan Tudge said he was "not aware" of such a list.

The Prime Minister declared Australians were "the winners" for getting more car parks.

But just two of 47 sites have been built. Some have been scrapped.

Last month, 9News revealed $2.13 billion has been set aside over this financial year and next with spending by the government forecast to soar in Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia.

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