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Federal Government blocks release of ‘sports rorts’ report

Federal Government blocks release of ‘sports rorts’ report
July 20, 2021

The Federal Government is blocking release of a report by Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Phil Gaetjens into the misallocation of funds within the $100 million Community Sports Infrastructure Grant program, widely known as thesports rorts’ affair.

As reported by the Guardian Australia, Secretary Gaetjens’ report was never published despite requests for its release under Freedom of Information laws.

With a summary of the report having revealed findings that there were ‘significant shortcomings’ in the way former Federal Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie decided on grant allocations, multiple applications for the findings to be released through are being denied based on confidentiality, with submissions from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet arguing that the document is covered by cabinet-in-confidence, exempting it from release through FoI.

The Federal Government’s refusal to release the report is now being considered by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).

The Department said in a June 2020 submission to the OAIC, released to applicants in the past week, that the document was submitted to the governance committee of cabinet, and was brought into existence for the dominant purpose of submission for consideration by the governance committee of cabinet, and is therefore exempt as a document submitted to cabinet.

In a separate September 2020 submission, the Department also argued the report was prepared to provide advice to the governance committee of cabinet, and therefore would reveal cabinet deliberations.

It has also been revealed that the staff member from the Prime Minister’s office was involved in sports rorts allocations was also involved in deciding which projects were funded under the $660 million commuter car park fund.

In evidence to a parliamentary committee on Monday, the Australian National Audit Office outlined how the Federal Government awarded funding under the scheme by preparing a list of 20 top marginal seats, and inviting the sitting MP to nominate projects for funding.

The Senate hearing comes after a damning audit report found that not one of the 47 commuter car park sites promised by the Coalition at the 2019 election was selected by the infrastructure department, with projects selected by the government in a process that “was not demonstrably merit-based”.

Image: Senator Bridget McKenzie at the Wangarrata Clay Target Club, to whom she allocated funds from the Community Sports Infrastructure Grant program while a member. Credit: Facebook.

Related Articles

4th June 2021 - Sport Australia defends ‘sports rorts’ funding allocations in Federal Court

19th March 2021 - Senate ‘sports rorts’ report says all recommended projects should be funded

11th March 2021 - Suspicions that Federal Government’s $1.2 billion tourism stimulus package targets marginal constituencies

12th September 2020 - Prime Minister Morrison denies targeting marginal constituencies when deciding sports grant expansion

11th May 2020 - Prime Minister Morrison denies misleading Parliament over involvement in sports rorts

24th February 2020 - Federal Sports Minister considers big changes in Government funding arrangements

7th February 2020 - Reports reveal Federal Government ‘quietly spent’ $150 million female sports program funds on aquatic centre projects in marginal seats

2nd February 2020 - Sports rorts scandal sees National deputy leader Bridget McKenzie resign from Government

1st February 2020 - Attorney General defends Ministers’ powers as more details emerge of sports grants allocations

29th January 2020 - Former Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie warned that sports grant program was compromised

25th January 2020 - Former Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie approved more than $1 million in grants for shooting clubs

24th January 2020 - Executive who worked on Infrastructure Grant Program no longer at Sport Australia

23rd January 2020 - ‘Sports rorts’ review to be assessed by Prime Minister’s department

23rd January 2020 - ‘Sports rorts’ scandal: Revelation that upmarket golf, rowing and tennis clubs received major grants

22nd January 2020 - More than $1 million in sport grants given to nine clubs linked to Coalition MPs

16th January 2020 - Audit Office sports grants report cites ‘conflict of interest’ at Sport Australia

15th January 2020 - Audit Office report confirms that Federal Government targeted marginal seats with potentially illegal sports grants

16th April 2019 - MP presents $1.5 million novelty cheque to sports club despite funds not being approved

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