A Tasmanian Greens senator has described pre-election grant schemes targeting marginal electorates as "institutional corruption" and has demanded the government avoid engaging in rorts in an attempt to buy votes.
Three of Tasmania's five lower house seats - Bass, Braddon and Lyons - are marginal and are considered crucial to either the Liberals or Labor forming government at the next election, almost certain to be held in May.
Bass Liberal MHR Bridget Archer doubted whether grant schemes - like those used in the sports rorts or car park rorts affairs - were "misued to win seats" and disputed if small-scale grants had much impact on voter intention.
Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson said there was no doubt the coalition had used such schemes in an effort to sway voters, proving the need for an anti-corruption body with teeth.
"These grants are institutional corruption," he said.
"This is a government using taxpayers' money - public money - to get itself reelected with no fairness or equity in how those funds are spent. They are spent purely for hanging onto power.
"We've been hammering the government to try to get documents to expose this stuff, and that's why we need an independent commission against corruption to compel documents and witnesses, search premises and tap politicians' phones."
The Greens' model passed the Senate with the support of Labor, but had been held up in the lower house. Indi independent MHR Helen Haines attempted to have the lower house debate her model, with the support of Ms Archer, but this was also unsuccessful.
Ms Archer said she wanted the debate brought on, as an anti-corruption body would help to mend the public's loss of faith in politics. When asked if she wanted the government to avoid using small-scale grants in marginal electorates, she doubted if they had much impact.
"Elections shouldn't always be about a laundry list of stuff, about the next shining bauble," Ms Archer said.
"It should be about strategic collaboration for our region. It's not about not having those things delivered, but how are those things working strategically for our region rather than just being something big ticket, big spending commitment."
During the 2019 campaign, a bidding war appeared to start between the Liberals and Labor over funding for Albert Hall in Launceston and a northern suburbs community centre, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison upping the funding to keep ahead of Labor.
Bass Labor candidate Ross Hart - who was defeated at the election - said it was "disappointing" that Ms Archer did not believe grant schemes were rorted.
"The government made highly targeted bids into electorates it was concerned it would lose," he said.
"We're on a knife's edge in Bass and 500 votes makes a difference."
Mr Hart said corruption and a loss of faith in politics were major issues as he doorknocked the electorate.
"The importance with the integrity commission is resonating in the community, I've been door knocking and there's quite a bit of frustration and anger out there," he said.
"The criticism by the Prime Minister of the model that's based upon the NSW ICAC, and description of NSW ICAC as a 'Star Chamber', is way off the beam and is being criticised by legal circles."
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