The $660 million commuter car park fund at the centre of a scathing audit report was "sports rorts on a industrial scale", the federal opposition has said.
Labor is demanding answers from the Morrison government after the release of an Auditor-General's report exposing serious flaws in the high-profile program the Coalition used to woo voters during the 2019 federal election campaign.
Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher and his department have defended the government's conduct, but have accepted all six of the watchdog's recommendations.
The Auditor-General's 104-page report into the program, published on Monday, found the process to select projects for funding was not "demonstrably merit based".
More than three quarters of commuter car park sites were in Coalition-held seats, with 64 per cent located in Melbourne - two and a half times the number in Sydney.
Ten sites weren't located next to train stations, despite the purpose of the fund being to encourage commuters to park and then ride public transport.
The report criticised the department of transport and infrastructure for not consulting with state governments and councils, which would typically be responsible for delivering local projects.
As of March 31, just two of 47 chosen projects had been completed. Two had been abandoned while assessment work has yet to start on 11 projects.
The report showed that 40 of 47 projects were selected in the three-month period leading up to start of the 2019 federal election campaign, including a massive 27 projects - worth a combined $389 million - on the day before the start of the caretaker period.
Victorian Labor MP Andrew Giles last year asked the Auditor-General to investigate the program.
In a joint statement with Labor's government accountability spokeswoman Kristina Keneally, Mr Giles said the program was "sports rorts on an industrial scale".
Mr Giles highlighted the audit's reference to a November 2018 meeting, in which staff from the offices of then Urban Infrastructure Minister Alan Tudge and Prime Minister Scott Morrison went through a spreadsheet identifying potential projects.
The spreadsheet included the department's suggestions as well as projects which Mr Tudge's office had identified.
"The Prime Minister needs to urgently explain what went on in that meeting and release the spreadsheets shared with his office," Mr Giles said.
"And if Minister Tudge cannot adequately explain his part in this appallingly partisan abuse of due process, he should resign.
"We've had Sports Rorts, Building Better Regions Rorts, female change room rorts, and now we've got car park rorts.
"There isn't a single fund that this government is not determined to rort."
The Department of Infrastructure has adopted all six of the auditor-general's recommendations.
However in a letter published in the report, department secretary Simon Atkinson rejected a number of the Auditor-General's findings after being invited to respond to his draft report.
Mr Atkinson disputed the finding that the department's approach to picking projects was "not appropriate", on the grounds that the department considered all of the proposals to be election commitments.
In a statement on Monday, Mr Fletcher said all of the government's infrastructure decisions were "based on an identified need in the community" and made in the context of existing federal, state and local government investment.
He said that after her took over the portfolio in December 2020 had sought a review of all projects under the wider Urban Congestion Fund.
"By the end of 2022, 90 per cent of all packages are expected to be completed or under construction," he said.
"It is normal practice in the delivery of infrastructure projects for there to be a significant lead time between the announcement of the project and construction commencing."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: