Auditor-General to front Senate probe into ‘sports rorts’ handouts
Bridget McKenzie's role in handing out the sports grants will be examined by a Senate committee. Photo: The Nationals/Bridget McKenzie
Australia’s Auditor-General will be the first to shed light on the controversial “sports rorts” scheme at a public inquiry into the scandal.
The Auditor-General found blatant political pork-barrelling in the $100 million Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program.
A Senate committee will on Thursday open an inquiry into the controversial scheme.
Committee members also want to hear from sports clubs whose applications were rejected.
In a scathing report issued into the handling of the grants, the Auditor-General found money was handed out by the Morrison government based on colour-coded electoral margins. Former sports minister Bridget McKenzie eventually resigned from the Coalition front bench, after weeks of denying she had done anything wrong in administering the pre-election grants.
However, Scott Morrison has rejected the Auditor-General’s findings.
Instead, he accepted a report by the head of his own department, Phil Gaetjens, who is also his former chief of staff. It found that the Auditor-General was wrong.
According to the Prime Minister, Mr Gaetjens found “no basis for the suggestion that political considerations were the primary determining factor”. Senator McKenzie, who was most recently agriculture minister, eventually resigned over a technicality declared by Mr Gaetjens – that she had awarded funding to a Wangaratta gun club without declaring her membership of the club.
His report has not been made public.
However, the Senate committee – which will examine Senator McKenzie’s role in the grants scheme – also wants Mr Gaetjens to appear at the public hearing to explain how he reached this conclusion.
The committee will also investigate the roles of the offices of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, as well any external parties, in determining how the money was handed out.