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Ex-sports minister Bridget McKenzie won’t apologise after Auditor-General slams marginal seat grants


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Australia’s new sports rorts affair: Minister refuses to apologise after being caught out misusing $100 million in grants by funnelling the money into seats the Coalition wanted to win

  • Auditor-General Grant Hehir has slammed cabinet minister Bridget McKenzie
  • He slammed how she allocated $100million in grants as former sports minister 
  • The 684 grants in late 2018, early 2019 went to mainly marginal Coalition seats
  • Ros Kelly resigned as Labor sports minister in 1994 after caught pork barrelling 

Embattled cabinet minister Bridget McKenzie is refusing to apologise after being sprung doling out $100million worth of taxpayer-funded sports grants into marginal seats.

Auditor-General Grant Hehir was scathing of the way she distributed 684 grants in December 2018, February 2019 and April 2019 during her final months as sports minister before the last election.

The funds went either into Coalition electorates or marginal seats the government was hoping to win. 

Embattled cabinet minister Bridget McKenzie (pictured right in May 2018) is refusing to apologise after being sprung doling out $100million worth of taxpayer-funded sports grants into marginal seats. Auditor-General Grant Hehir was scathing of the way she distributed 684 grants in December 2018, February 2019 and April 2019 during her final months as sports minister before the last election

Senator McKenzie, who is also the deputy leader of the Nationals, was accused of being political in the way she ignored advice from Sport Australia to allocate $100million from the Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program.

‘The award of grant funding was not informed by an appropriate assessment process and sound advice,’ the Australian National Audit Office report said.

‘The successful applications were not those that had been assessed as the most meritorious in terms of the published program guidelines.’ 

Senator McKenzie declined to apologise despite the Auditor-General’s findings.

‘The Community Sport Infrastructure Program was a very popular program that funded 684 projects right across the country to help get people up and moving,’ she said in a statement on Thursday.

‘All projects selected for funding were eligible to receive it.’

The Auditor-General launched an investigation after Labor expressed concern about $127,373 being allocated to the Yankalilla Bowling Club in the Adelaide Hills electorate of Mayo. Failed Liberal candidate Georgina Downer in March 2019 handed over a cheque as she campaigned to win the seat her father, former foreign minister Alexander Downer, had held from 1984 to 2008

The Auditor-General launched an investigation after Labor expressed concern about $127,373 being allocated to the Yankalilla Bowling Club in the Adelaide Hills electorate of Mayo. Failed Liberal candidate Georgina Downer in March 2019 handed over a cheque as she campaigned to win the seat her father, former foreign minister Alexander Downer, had held from 1984 to 2008

Asked earlier on ABC radio if she would apologise, she replied: ‘Not at all.’ 

The Auditor-General launched an investigation after Labor expressed concern about $127,373 being allocated to the Yankalilla Bowling Club in the marginal Adelaide Hills electorate of Mayo.

The Liberal candidate Georgina Downer in March 2019 handed over a cheque as she campaigned to win the seat her father, former foreign minister Alexander Downer, had held from 1984 to 2008.

The grant failed politically, with Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie re-elected with a 2.2 per cent swing towards her.  

In early 1994, Ros Kelly resigned as Paul Keating's sports minister after she failed to justify why she had allocated grants to marginal Labor electorates (she is pictured right in 2001 with her husband David Morgan when he was Westpac chief executive)

In early 1994, Ros Kelly resigned as Paul Keating’s sports minister after she failed to justify why she had allocated grants to marginal Labor electorates (she is pictured right in 2001 with her husband David Morgan when he was Westpac chief executive)

Sport Australia, a federal government agency, isn’t covered by Commonwealth Grant Rules and Guidelines, a policy issue highlighted by the Auditor-General. 

In early 1994, Ros Kelly resigned as Paul Keating’s sports minister after she failed to justify why she had allocated grants to marginal Labor electorates.

It had emerged Ms Kelly had formulated granting funding on a white board as part of the infamous ‘sports rorts’ affair that saw her resign from Parliament a year later, sparking a disastrous by-election for Labor.

A year ago, Daily Mail Australia revealed Senator McKenzie had charged taxpayers $19,942 in May 2018 to fly direct on a RAAF jet from Rockhampton to Melbourne so she could watch an ice hockey game.

A month earlier, Senator McKenzie charged the public purse $13,955 so she could fly direct from the Gold Coast to Cairns on an unscheduled charter flight to meet Prince Charles at the Commonwealth Games.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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