NSW Government is strengthening grants regulation
The Minns Labor Government is today moving to deliver on its election commitment to strengthen transparency, accountability and fairness in the administration of government grants.
The Government Sector Finance Amendment (Grants) Bill 2023, being introduced to Parliament today, will amend 2 separate Acts and amend 1 regulation to strengthen the system of grants in NSW.
The legislative amendments will effectively codify the key principles of grants administration set out in the Grants Administration Guide.
The amendments will also make certain grants information ‘open access information’ under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009.
And ministers will be required to ensure every grant they approve is an efficient, effective, economical and ethical use of money, and achieves value for money.
The Government Sector Finance Amendment (Grants) Bill 2023 will amend the Government Sector Finance Act 2018 (NSW) (the GSF Act) to:
- require that a person who approves or declines a grant has regard to the 7 key principles of grants administration (robust planning and design; collaboration and partnership; proportionality; outcomes orientation; achieving value for money; governance and accountability; and, probity and transparency); and
- require that a minister must not approve a grant unless satisfied that the grant would be an efficient, effective, economical and ethical use of money, and that it achieves value for money.
The Bill will also amend the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 and the Government Information (Public Access) Regulation 2018 to make certain grants information ‘open access information’, which must be made publicly available unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure of the information.
This package also includes provisions to ensure that for any future disaster relief grants, all grant details will be forwarded to the Auditor-General within 3 months from the date of approval.
This will allow timely auditing and improve public confidence in the process.
Any fast-track disaster funding grants will be considered high risk grants under the grants framework and the Auditor-General would be required to conduct regular performance audits in relation to them.
NSW Premier Chris Minns said:
“During the election, we promised to end the pork-barrelling of our predecessors.
“The blatant pork-barrelling and politicisation of public money needed to end.
“This Bill delivers on our commitment to lift standards.
“The abuse of grants under the previous government, even for bushfire recovery, showed that stronger laws were needed.
“Grants approved under my government will adhere to the highest standards ever seen in NSW.
“It is my responsibility and my ministers’ responsibility to ensure money is delivered fairly and transparently.”
NSW Special Minister of State John Graham said:
“The disrespect of public money shown by our predecessors was a disgrace.
“Under the last government, firefighters in a Labor electorate were denied a grant, while a skydiving adventure park in a Nationals’ seat received millions of dollars.
“The politicisation of disaster relief funding by the NSW Liberals and Nationals was one of the lowest points in Australian politics.
“This bill will ensure future governments never repeat the shameless pork-barrelling we saw over the past 12 years.”
NSW Treasurer Daniel Mookhey said:
“The community rightly expects that we deliver grants to the highest standard – this is the Government’s intent, and this Bill will help us to improve the public value that grants deliver.”
“Every year, the NSW Government typically spends about $4 billion on grants. It is essential that the $4 billion is money spent wisely.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a $500 grant for a new scoreboard at a local footy club or a multimillion-dollar grant program – grants need to be delivered fairly and deliver value for NSW taxpayers.
“This Bill helps to ensure that government grants are fair and deliver value.”