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Former Sport Australia Chief Executive ‘surprised’ to see colour-coded grants spreadsheet

Former Sport Australia Chief Executive ‘surprised’ to see colour-coded grants spreadsheet
February 29, 2020

Former Sport Australia head Kate Palmer was "surprised" when she was shown the contentious colour-coded grants spreadsheet used by former Federal Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie in allocating funds from the Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program last year.

Speaking to a Senate inquiry into the sports grants program yesterday, Palmer, who left her role at Sport Australia at the end of January, advised that she had been shown the spreadsheet by a staff member as she was walking into a Senates estimates hearing in early April last year.

Hearings were held on 5th and 10th April, prior to the Federal Government going into caretaker mode on 11th April before the last Australian election.

Palmer commented "I was just surprised when I saw it."

As a result, a high-level meeting was called that evening with Sport Australia Chairman John Wylie and Glenys Beauchamp, Secretary of the Federal Department of Health to, as Palmer recalled yesterday, "uncover and explore what has actually happened".

Palmer advised that “we determined that the minister's office had replaced our spreadsheet, which was not colour-coded with this spreadsheet that was colour-coded.”

Palmer said Sport Australia was concerned to ensure it had outlined the risks to Senator Mckenzie and was giving her proper advice.

Palmer went on to say that while, under the program guidelines, the Federal Sports Minister was the approver of grants, it would have been "a much more professional process" for Sport Australia to have given its recommendations to the Minister from the beginning, instead of drawing up recommendations based on the projects the Minister wanted funding.

Beauchamp, who gave evidence after Palmer on Friday, provided no more details on the hastily convened April meeting.

However, she said recalled a meeting with Palmer and Wylie "on a number of issues", although she did not recall details and had not been able to find any records of the meeting having destroyed her notebooks as she approached retirement earlier this year

Sport Australia sent Senator McKenzie its list of recommended projects on 3rd April with Senator McKenzie sending back the list she had approved, which was mostly different, on 11th April last year, 17 minutes after the caretaker period began.

Palmer said Sport Australia raised concerns with Senator McKenzie in December 2018 and March 2019 about her approach to the program adding “there were concerns raised about the process, yes, I can confirm that absolutely.”

Palmer rejected suggestions that Tennis Australia had been given special treatment by virtue of being given the guidelines earlier than other sports.

While the Australian National Audit Office has reported that 43% of projects were ineligible by the time they were funded, Palmer also said that Sport Australia believed all projects were eligible.

Image: Kate Palmer addresses the National Sports Convention.

Related Articles

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27th February 2020 - Sport rorts inquiry implicates Prime Minister Scott Morrison

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

22nd February 2020 - Battle between Australian Olympic Committee and the Australian Institute of Sport fought in the media spotlight

21st February 2020 - Kate Palmer agrees to give evidence to sports grants inquiry

15th February 2020 - Report from Secretary to Prime Minister’s Department rejects Audit Office finding that sports grant program targeted marginal electorates

13th February 2020 - National Audit Office advises 43% of successful Federal Government sports fund projects were ineligible

5th February 2020 - Sport Australia confirm Robert Dalton as acting Chief Executive

4th February 2020 - Former Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie bypassed Sport Australia board to authorise $2.5 million grant to Netball Australia

4th February 2020 - Kate Palmer departs Chief Executive role at Sport Australia

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

20th May 2019 - Federal Government Community Sporting Infrastructure Grants invests over $100 million

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

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