A Tasmanian Liberal candidate has announced a $100,000 taxpayer-funded campaign grant for a volleyball club he was involved with, the ABC can reveal.
- Dean Young had been vice-president of the Tasmania Echidnas Volleyball Club until the day before the campaign.
- He was also vice-chairman of Volleyball Tasmania and announced the decision to award the grant in the final days of the campaign.
- Tasmanian Greens leader Cassy O’Connor doesn’t blame the club for the funding but says others have missed out
Tasmania’s Liberal Government is facing growing pork barrel allegations for funding pledges made to sports clubs and organizations during last year’s state election.
During the campaign, Liberal candidates applied for money under the Local Community Facilities Fund on behalf of organizations, and recipients were chosen internally by Liberal Party members.
One was awarded to the Tasmania Echidnas Volleyball Club, announced by then Liberal candidate and now Franklin MHA Dean Young.
Mr. Young had served as Vice President of the Echidnas until the eve of the campaign.
He was also Vice-Chairman of Volleyball Tasmania and announced the decision to award the Echidnas Grant in the final days of the campaign to Volleyball Tasmania Chairman Stephen Ibbott.
Mr. Young has since succeeded Mr. Ibbott as president of the organization.
A week after the election campaign, Mr. Ibbott wrote in his chairman’s report following the AGM that “I would like to… thank my vice-chairman Dean Young, who in a short time expanded the VTAS professional networks and taken important steps in government circles to lay the solid foundations needed to embark on a new phase of development.”
Tasmanian Greens leader Cassy O’Connor does not blame the club for the funding but said others have missed the mark.
“We’re talking about $100,000 of public money that went to a sports organization, and the only reason they got that money was because a Liberal candidate was their vice president,” he said. said Mrs. O’Connor.
“The issue here is all those sports organizations that also allegedly had a legitimate request for support but never received an offer because they weren’t tied to a Liberal Party candidate.”
Mr. Young has been contacted for comment.
He is the ninth Tasmanian government MP to be linked to groups that have received funds in a scheme described as “voter corruption”.
“That tells us everything we need to know about the Local Community Facilities Fund to know that nine of the Liberal MPs were able to pledge money to an organization they were connected to,” Ms O’Connor said.
Issues Raised About Process Integrity
The fundraising pledge was announced during the state’s last election campaign by Mr. Young on his candidate Facebook page.
The government has said that announcing promises in this way, and then disbursing the money, is transparent, fair and democratic.
University of Tasmania policy analyst Richard Herr said the revelations raised questions about the integrity of the process.
“Politicians are going to make promises, we expect them to make promises, and there’s nothing wrong with keeping their promises, because we would castigate them if they don’t keep them,” said Dr. Herr.
“What we don’t expect is for politicians to behave with favouritism, with a bias towards a part of the community with which they have a special relationship or concern.
“Second, we don’t expect them to be able to deliver on promises that aren’t delivered consistently with the proper use of public funds.
“It’s one thing to promise that you’re going to try to do something, it’s another to have a private slush fund at your disposal to enforce those promises because they haven’t done the going through a vetting process to see if there was anything more important to this community.”
A government spokeswoman said the community would not expect an organization not to be eligible for funding just because an applicant was linked to it.
She said the engagements have benefited everyday Tasmanians across the state.
Over 50% of campaign grants distributed in secret process
The ABC previously revealed that a grant announced by Liberal candidate Madeleine Ogilvie during the 2021 Tasmanian state election campaign funneled $150,000 into the rowing club of which her daughter was a member.
Another was announced by Mr Street for the Lindisfarne Country Women’s Association branch during the election campaign last April – the same branch of which his family member was treasurer.
And a $165,000 grant was given to St Vincent de Paul, the workplace of then-Liberal candidate Lara Alexander, for new pickup trucks.
Ms Alexander also signed the receipt for a grant of $75,000 as president of the Rotary Club of South Launceston, which was handed out before her election on a recount.
In September, questions were raised in state parliament about a $400,000 grant for Bracknell Hall, as Speaker Mark Shelton and some of his family members sit on its committee.
The Tasmanian Liberal MPs were also patrons or members of at least seven organizations that received grants under the scheme.
Last week, the ABC revealed that the funding for more than half of the grants promised during the campaign had never been subject to parliamentary scrutiny.
Instead, they were approved by Tasmania’s Governor under a process designed for unforeseen emergency expenditure.
Tasmania’s Integrity Commission released a bombshell report in April 2022, raising concerns about electoral corruption, or the pork barrel, during the 2018 election campaign.
He raised questions about tens of millions of taxpayer dollars doled out by the Liberal Party in 2018, drawing comparisons to the so-called Commonwealth ‘sporting rorts’ saga, but pointed out there were fewer rules governing practice in Tasmania.