The senior government minister responsible for a splash of “partial” money financed by taxpayers of $ 100 million in marginal seats on the eve of the election has refused to resign.
A conviction report by the Auditor General revealed that the granting of sports scholarships just before the May 18 survey was against the formal councils and possibly had no legal authority.
Bridget McKenzie, who was the sports minister at the time, channeled some $ 100 million to sports clubs through grants 684 in a way that favored the electorates that the Coalition needed to win to retain the government.
“Applications for projects located in those electorates were more successful in obtaining funds than if the funds were allocated on the basis of the merit evaluated according to the published guidelines of the program,” General Auditor Grant Hehir found.
In addition, Sport Australia’s advice on applicants who should receive the funds was ignored, and Senator McKenzie’s office conducted his own “assessments,” the explosive audit determined.
More than 60 percent of the projects that received funds were not recommended by Sports Australia under the existing selection criteria.
In response to a storm of controversy Thursday afternoon, Senator McKenzie resisted calls to resign.
“That is absolutely ridiculous,” he said.
The “sports rort” was exposed in the back of Labor by submitting the subsidy scheme to the Australian National Audit Office after the failed Liberal candidate for Mayo Georgina Downer posted an “inappropriate” photo on social media.
In the image, charged in the period prior to election day, Ms. Downer posed a large-sized check for $ 127,373 to Yankalilla Bowling Club, taxpayers’ money that did not play any role in insuring.
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The audit exposed several other instances in which sums of money went to the electorates “who would be” targets “of the Coalition in the 2019 elections,” Hehir discovered.
Senator McKenzie, who is now agriculture minister and vice president of the National Party, has refused to apologize.
Labor demands that she be fired, and Tony Burke told Radio National that “there was not even a clear legal authority” to grant the subsidies.
“Sports Australia thought it was their decision,” Burke said.
“The Department of Health, which was the department in charge, the administration department, their opinion was the same and they said that if the minister wanted to make the decision, the minister would have to get new legal advice.
“The minister decided not to obtain new legal advice. They just went and did it anyway. “
Yesterday, when the report was published, Labor spokesman Don Farrell said the grants were awarded in April, just a few weeks after the May 18 survey.
“More than 400 grassroots sports clubs had their requests, which were greatly appreciated by Sport Australia, rejected by this government so they could channel money into marginal seats,” said Senator Farrell.
“A complete list of projects carefully selected by Bridget McKenzie and those that were lost due to the sweep of pork from the Morrison Government should be published immediately.
“The brazen politicization of the Morrison government of taxpayers’ money for community sports clubs is appalling, unacceptable and cannot go unpunished.”
He also demanded that Senator McKenzie be fired.
Speaking on ABC Radio this morning, Senator McKenzie insisted he had done nothing wrong and refused to apologize.
“At this time, as a result of our investment, parents are seeing their children activate on a Saturday morning instead of going to Bunnings and cooking sausages to earn money,” he told Radio National.
Those funded programs were eligible, he said, although he does not have the support of Sports Australia.
Despite the Labor question about the uncertainty of legal authority, Senator McKenzie insists that “the rules were not broken.”