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What is pork barrelling?

It’s a political term that refers to politicians spending taxpayer money to please voters in certain seats, and win votes. The phrase is especially used in situations where marginal seats might be seen as receiving more funding than safe seats in order to generate political support in seats that are not safe. 

Pork barrelling is controversial, as legally there is not a lot that can be done to stop or avoid it. 

Why is it called pork barrelling? 

The term comes from U.S. politics, and the word “pork” was commonly used in U.S. Congress to describe public spending and actually had a positive connotation. However, it soon took on a negative tone, and the phrase “pork barrel bills” was used to describe legislation used to pass partisan agendas. 

What does this have to do with Friendlyjordies and the NSW Deputy Premier? 

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro is suing YouTuber Jordan Shanks-Markovina – known as Friendlyjordies – for defamation, claiming the YouTuber has published several “vile and racist” videos attacking him. Barilaro has also lodged defamation proceedings against Google (who owns YouTube) for not removing the videos. 

Lawyers for Shanks say they will argue a truth defence in part based on Barilaro’s description of himself as “Pork-Barilaro”, referring to pork barrelling. “Well my name is John Barilaro, call me Pork-Barilaro, and I have no apology because at the end of the day I will stand up and fight for our communities”, Barilaro said back in February this year. The instance that Barilaro was referring to was the spending of a $47 million regional arts grant fund, which was mostly spent in Coalition seats (Barilaro is part of the National Party).

The hearing for the case between Barilaro and Shanks-Markovina will formally begin on July 23.

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