Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has sensationally hit out after the opposition accused him of pork-barrelling over mobile coverage in regional parts of the country.
Nationals leader David Littleproud put to Mr Albanese during question time on Monday why 74 per cent of the locations identified in the first round of the mobile phone black spots program were in Labor-held electorates.
“How is this fair and accountable for bushfire-prone communities across regional Australia desperate for better mobile coverage?” Mr Littleproud asked.
He had to repeat the question because of interjections on both sides of the house, including a loud cry from one Labor MP that “people died in the bushfires”.
Mr Albanese slammed Mr Littleproud for having the “gall” of asking such a question given his party’s own history – citing ongoing questions about former NSW deputy premier John Barilaro’s bushfire grants decisions and the federal sports rorts controversy.
Anthony Albanese hit out after David Littleproud accused his government of pork-barrelling. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
“Because frankly … for the leader of the National Party to come in here and ask a question about pork-barrelling … When the fund that was half-funded by the federal government and half-funded by the NSW government, when the leader of the National Party in NSW sat down and changed the rules and changed the guidelines so that the bushfire-affected communities in the electorate in Macquarie got money taken away from them, and they looked at the colour-coded map to exclude (Labor electorates),” Mr Albanese said, visibly fired up.
“What a disgrace from the National Party. The party of sports rorts. The party of community (pool) rorts.
“When you go for a walk near the Sydney Harbour Bridge, past North Sydney pool, you pass a project that was funded under the regional scheme because some people from the country might swim in it sometimes! You have got to be kidding.”
Mr Albanese concluded his answer by saying the first round of the mobile black spot program formed part of Labor’s election commitment.
Communications Minister Michelle Rowland was unable to answer the question due to the length of Mr Albanese’s response.
Immigration Minister Andrew Giles said refugees who deserves protection would be catered for. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
Elsewhere, question time heavily featured questions over Labor’s decision to transition 19,000 refugees on temporary protection visas to permanent residency pathways.
Independent Allegra Spender asked pathways were available for the 12,000 additional refugees not covered by Monday’s announcement.
“Let me say this; we contemplate the circumstances of all these people, including a large number 10 years on, who are yet to have a primary decision in a manner that is consistent with due process that fundamentally comes back to this: We believe that it is people who are ultimately found to have been owed protection who should be able to access this pathway,” Immigration Minister Andrew Giles responded.
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