Pork barrelling claims water off a duck’s back for Franklin
WHEN North Coast Nationals MLC Ben Franklin gets accused of pork barrelling by his political opponents, he doesn't mind saying "guilty as charged" over programs and projects that are transparent and good for the community.
Remember this is the guy who ran for the seat of Ballina at the 2019 NSW election and racked up hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of spending promises.
In a two-day period during the last election campaign he made $2.08 million dollars worth of infrastructure promises per hour.
And he still didn't manage to defeat the sitting Greens Member for Ballina, Tamara Smith.
At the announcement of a $240,000 grant to help Northern Rivers Food on Thursday, Franklin responded to claims of pork barrelling by NSW Labor.
Labor accused the government of blatantly attempting to buy marginal seats through the distribution of funds through the Stronger Country Communities Fund (SCCF).
"This is the antithesis of pork barrelling because every single area in regional NSW has got a set amount of money," Franklin said.
"I'm frankly shocked that Labor would say this because they failed to deliver for regional communities for the 16 years when they were in government.
"What this program [SCCF] is about is the netball clubs, historical societies and local art galleries get the support they need which they were denied over 16 years.
"People will judge and make the decision on who they are going to vote for, for a range of different reasons.
"But I don't think my election commitments through the campaign were pork barrelling.
"What I tried to do was listen to the needs of the community and go to government
and advocate on their behalf and to get the funds needed to support the community and that's what a local representative should be doing."
He said funding for umbrella groups like Northern Rivers Food was a good example of money well spent.
"If people want to accuse me of pork barrelling, and this is the outcome, then I say guilty as charged."