Second 'sports rort' emerges
The Federal Government is being accused of a second ‘sports rort’, this time with a $150 million fund for water safety and women’s sport facilities.
The $150 million Female Facilities and Water Safety Stream Program was announced by the Coalition less than two months before the 2019 federal election, intended to pay for female changerooms and swimming pool upgrades.
The fund was not open to public applications, and the money appears to have been funnelled to favourable and contested electorates.
The Department of Health has released details showing 41 projects have been approved for a total of $131 million worth of funding.
The funded projects were predominantly in Coalition-held seats or seats that it was targeting in last year’s federal election, including the key seats of Braddon (Tasmania), Boothby (South Australia), Gilmore (NSW), Brisbane (Queensland), Corangamite (Victoria), and Pearce and Swan (WA).
The largest grants included $25 million for the new Ellenbrook pool in attorney general Christian Porter’s marginal seat of Pearce, $20 million for the Torquay pool and $10 million for the Bellarine aquatic centre in Liberal MP Sarah Henderson’s seat, which she was at risk of losing to Labor in a redistribution.
Steve Irons, a key ally of the prime minister, Scott Morrison, helped keep his WA seat of Swan in Coalition hands with $20 million for a new South Perth aquatic centre.
Warren Mundine announced a $500,000 grant for the Broulee surf club in Gilmore, but was unable to hold the marginal seat following the departure of Anne Sudmalis.
Details of the second apparent rort have emerged after the Senate moved to set up an inquiry into the first rort involving a $100 million community sport infrastructure fund.
The revelation of the initial pork-barrelling led to the resignation of former Nationals minister Bridget McKenzie.
Her replacement, new deputy Nationals leader David Littleproud, has conceded that allocating money along partisan lines is not “the best way to do it”, despite the Prime Minister’s staunch defence of the wonky funding decisions.