Audit shows sporting pork-barrel
The auditor-general has found a federal government minister awarded $100 million worth of grants based on electorates the Coalition wanted to win.
The independent review of the community sports grant program found most grants were awarded in seats targeted by the Coalition during last year's federal election campaign, and were not based on merit.
The audit was sparked by the actions of Liberal candidate Georgina Downer, who handed a $127,000 cheque for a local bowling club in South Australia during the election campaign.
Ninety per cent of the electorates approved to receive the highest possible tier of funding were either marginal seats or ones being eyed by the Coalition.
Former sports minister Bridget McKenzie approved the grants, leading auditors to question whether she had the legal authority to do so.
“It is not evident to the [auditor’s office] what the legal authority was,” it said.
The report also found that programs were not funded based on work done by Sport Australia.
In the program’s third round, 73 per cent of the projects that received funding were not recommended by Sport Australia.
The deputy Nationals leader was asked if she would apologise for the alleged mishandling of over $100 million, but she said; “Not at all”.
The now-Agriculture Minister said all the successful applications were eligible to apply.
Opposition and independent figures have used the situation to back calls for a national corruption court or integrity commission.