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Former Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie approved more than $1 million in grants for shooting clubs

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

Further revelations about the allocation of funds from the Federal Government’s Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program have revealed that Nationals deputy leader Bridget McKenzie signed off on more than $1 million for shooting clubs and associations during her time as Australian Sports Minister, potentially opening her up to further allegation of conflicts of interest.

An investigation into whether Senator McKenzie breached ministerial standards by failing to declare memberships and patronage of shooting clubs and bodies during her handling of a $100 million sports grant program is currently approaching completion.

While political colleagues continued to support Senator McKenzie, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald revealed this week that the Victorian senator had failed to declare she was a member of a Wangaratta shooting club she awarded a $36,000 grant to upgrade its facilities.

A keen shooter and advocate for the loosening of Federal gun control legislation, Senator McKenzie also did not publicly disclose she was the official patron of the Wangaratta club, in line with common practice from federal MPs, senators and ministers.

In June 2018, Senator McKenzie told regional ABC radio the association had shared in a $22 million national funding package aimed at increasing participation in sport.

She served as Federal Sports Minister from 20th December 2017 until the May 2019 election, signing off on $1,004,219 for shooting organisations, including a $100,000 grant to Shooting Australia to help older Australians take part in the sport.

Seven shooting clubs also received money - including $500,000 for the NT Field and Game Association - under two rounds of the now discredited Infrastructure Grant Program.

More than $160,000 was also spent commissioning a report into the economic and social impacts of recreational hunting and shooting, which put the net figure at $335 million with 3300 jobs.

Senator McKenzie's office said this week she was co-operating with the review into her administration and was confident she had not breached ministerial standards.

A report from the Australian National Audit Office last week slammed Senator McKenzie over her handling of the program, which she oversaw as Federal Sports Minister, revealing she and her staff intervened hundreds of times to overturn the merit-based assessments of applications from sporting groups for cash.

Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter is currently reviewing legal issues raised by the Auditor-Aeneral’s report as to whether Senator McKenzie had the legal authority to determine successful grant recipients.

Image shows former Federal Sport Minister Bridget McKenzie at the Wangarrata Clay Target Club. Facebook.

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23rd November 2019 - Former Government lawyer says Federal Minister’s Community Sport Infrastructure allocations were ‘illegal’

11th November 2019 - Marginal electorates benefit under ‘dodgy’ Federal Government sport grant scheme

28th October 2019 - Kate Palmer to step down from Sport Australia Chief Executive role

16th October 2019 - Federal Government questioned over drought funds being used to back music festivals

21st September 2019 - NSW Sports Minister steps down in corruption probe

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15th May 2019 - Major parties make sport funding pledges a cornerstone of Federal election campaign

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