COMPANY CHAIRED BY NEW NATIONAL PARTY STATE CANDIDATE RECEIVES OVER $3 MILLION IN FEDERAL GOVERNMENT GRANTS IN 2018
The National Party on Saturday selected Mr Gurmesh Singh as its candidate for the New South Wales state seat of Coffs Harbour.
Mr Singh is the Chairman of Oz Group Co-op Ltd, a blueberry farming group on the Mid-North Coast of New South Wales, with operations at North Boambee and Woolgoolga, in the marginal National Party federal seats of Cowper and Page.
Documents available online indicate that so far in 2018, the Liberal-National Federal Government has granted Oz Group $3,205,000.
Oz Group has also been associated with a federal government market development program valued at over $50 million.
The three grants were made in February and March 2018. Nine months later, Mr Singh is named as a National Party Candidate for the NSW Parliament.
This does not pass the pub-test.
To ensure confidence in the system, Mr Singh should hand back the $3,205,000 granted by the government to the company he chairs and self-fund investments.
This principle should also apply to any grant to Oz Group since the election of the Abbott, Turnbull, Morrison Government since September 2013.
Based on online documents from the federal government and federal members of parliament, Luke Hartsuyker and Kevin Hogan, there are three separate grants of $1 million, $1.155 million and $1.05 million.
You simply can’t accept over $3 million from a Liberal-National government and nine months later put your hand up and be named as a candidate for the National Party in coalition with the Liberal Party at a state level.
It wreaks of cronyism, which the National Party has turned into an art-form in regional Australia.
Time and time again, we hear complaints from the public that the National Party only looks after its mates.
The three grants to Oz Group simply reinforce this long-standing view.
Further, the federal government needs to make a statement on all grants given to Oz Group Ltd and Oz Berries Ltd since it came to power in 2013.
The federal Minister for Agriculture, Mr David Littleproud must also indicate what assistance has been provided to Oz Group under a $51.3 million program announced in May 2018 to receive greater access to export markets.
Mr Littleproud was in Coffs Harbour in May 2018 and was photographed with Mr Singh under the headline “Blueberry exports primed to expand under $50 million fund”.
Both the outgoing National Party federal Member for Cowper, Mr Luke Hartsuyker, and the ‘we’re-not-sure’ federal Member for Page, Kevin Hogan need to release all documentation concerning their support for the grants awarded in 2018 and earlier.
Labor, of course, supports farmers and local jobs. It also supports market and product development assistance to industry and businesses, where appropriate. These are not the issues here.
The problem here is a company receiving over $3 million from a Liberal-National government in the same year its chairman becomes a National Party candidate.
Again, it doesn’t pass the pub test.
MONDAY, 26 NOVEMBER 2018
- 19 February 2018, Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Woolgoolga
- No news releases and no media coverage.
GRANT #3 – $1,050,000
- 16 March 2018 Department of Business (Commonwealth), North Boambee
- Luke Hartsuyker news release, 29 January 2018
- Coffs Harbour Advocate, 29 January 2018
- 15 May 2018, Mr Littleproud, Mr Hartsukyer and Mr Singh announcing new grants to assist the industry.
- Mr Hartsuyker’s mentions on Oz Group
- Oz Group
- Mr Singh
Oz Group’s Gurmesh Singh, Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker and Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud.
Courtesy: Coffs Harbour Advocate, 15 May 2018.