Pork-barelling claims in threatened ALP seat

The Greens are eyeing an increase in the federal vote as the government comes under fire for splashing money into Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner’s seat, in a bid to ward off a Greens challenge.

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The cabinet minister’s marginal inner-city seat of Melbourne has received more stimulus funds for school building, housing and infrastructure than any other Victorian electorate, a News Limited investigation has found.

Under the stimulus plan, the seat received $220 million in non-road and rail spending – $80 million more than its nearest neighbour.

Another $15 million in non-stimulus grants spending has been earmarked for Mr Tanner’s seat, News Limited said.

Australian Greens leader Bob Brown said it was not right for the government to be spending money to stem a challenge from the minor

party.

“That’s because of the Greens but it’s unfair,” Senator Brown told ABC Television on Sunday.

“I would like to see some independent watch again on electorates because why should seats that aren’t marginal be left out of spending on playgrounds and bike ways and refurbishing of buildings?

“And it oughtn’t be happening because the minister feels threatened.”

Mr Tanner suffered a 5.7 per cent swing against him at the 2007 election, despite a nationwide swing towards Labor, as the Greens candidate Adam Brandt, an industrial lawyer, outpolled the Liberals.

Labor could lose the seat to the Greens with a swing of less than five per cent against Mr Tanner.

The Melbourne seat has not been held by a political party other than Labor since 1904.

The electorate, held for three-decades by former federal Labor leader Arthur Calwell, includes the Melbourne city centre and the now gentrified suburbs of Carlton, Fitzroy and Richmond.