| 04.12,11. 12:12 AM |
Barry O' Farrell cuts his big events slush fund for NSW
December 04, 201
A MULTI-MILLION dollar slush fund used to assist financing special events in NSW has been given a government makeover with the cash now to be diverted into disaster relief and capital works programs.
After slashing $150 million from the funds known as "Treasurer's Advance", Treasurer Mike Baird has imposed strict guidelines on how ministers can now access the money.
Accusing the former Labor government of using it as a "slush fund" he said the money will be no longer be used to fund visits by the likes of Oprah Winfrey, but rather it will be available for emergencies, disaster relief and capital works.
He said it cost taxpayers $2 million to fund a visit by Winfrey -- who filmed a show in Sydney last December - and an extra $250,000 was needed to secure David Beckham's visit with the LA Galaxy to play the Newcastle Jets.
The Sydney Festival would also miss out on the additional $1.2 million organisers were given last year, and the V8 Supercars Race in Homebush will have to forgo the last-minute $3.275 million in funds it has received since 2009.
Another event that managed to collect last-minute funding from the the state's coffers was the FIFA Fanfest, which received $105,000 to put up screens in Darling Harbour for fans to watch the Football World Cup in South Africa.
There was also big money spent on political advertising, including $4.2 million for an advertising campaign on the home builder's bonus and $2.1 million for the first home owners grant.
The Treasury also fast-forwarded former premier Kristina Keneally a $1 million "discretionary fund" in the lead-up to the March 26 election.
Mr Baird said the Treasurer's Advance had been abused by the former government, with money splashed on "whatever caught the attention of a minister".
"While completely neglecting our state's infrastructure, NSW Labor used this fund to throw $2.2 million at the Oprah Winfrey show and a visit from David Beckham's football team, with no justification for the spend," Mr Baird said.
"Labor also used $4.2 million of the Treasurer's Advance for electioneering which was disguised as advertising, and a further $1 million went to the Premier's Discretional Fund."
Mr Baird said the days of "splurge now and deal with it later" were over.
The Treasurer added there were a host of other belt-tightening measures being carried out. These included requiring ministers to seek cabinet approval before spending extra money on their departments.
"The government is taking direct action to put an end
to the budgeting culture that existed under Labor which saw deficits hidden, our triple-A credit rating at risk, and long-term fiscal challenges ignored," Mr Baird said.