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National Audit Office advises 43% of successful Federal Government sports fund projects were ineligible

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

43% of projects funded under the Federal Government’s controversial Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program were ineligible when agreements were signed, according to officials from the Australian National Audit Office.

In evidence from the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) presented today to the Senate inquiry into the Program, officials advised that Prime Minister Scott Morrison's office made direct and indirect representations to then Federal Sport Minister Bridget McKenzie's office  - revealing that the Prime Minister’s office was more heavily involved in the funding allocations than has been admitted to date.

ANAO officials also revealed the Prime Minister’s office made “direct” representations about which projects to fund, and the Liberal National Party of Queensland submitted a wish-list of projects in a key marginal seat.

In a scathing report released last month, the ANAO found the $100 million infrastructure program was targeted at marginal or Coalition target electorates, after Senator McKenzie departed from Sport Australia’s assessment to select projects from spreadsheets colour-coded by electorate.

Before McKenzie resigned on 2nd February over a conflict of interest in one grant, she and Prime Minister Morrison had said no ineligible projects were funded.

However, speaking today, Brian Boyd, the ANAO Performance Audit Services Group Executive Director, told the Senate inquiry “that’s not what we found”.

Boyd went on to advise that more than 40% of the projects - 290 projects in total - were ineligible for funding at the time agreements were signed, mostly because many sporting clubs had started work - or even finished projects - before their approval by the Federal Government.

He explained this meant that no projects that had been assessed as ineligible by Sport Australia were granted funding but that ineligible projects were funded due to Senator McKenzie accepting late applications and because circumstances changed between the assessment and the time that funding agreements were concluded.

Boyd also revealed the Queensland LNP sent Senator McKenzie a list of projects it was “fighting for” in the Labor-held seat of Longman, one of several seats picked up by the Coalition to secure re-election in May 2019.

Image: The popular Coledale Waves Soccer Club missed out on funds from the Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program. Courtesy of Coledale Waves Soccer Club/Facebook.

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

2nd February 2020 - New multi-million dollar Northam Aquatic Facility opens

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

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

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

8th February 2019 - NSW Premier accused of $25 million sport venue ‘blackmail’ in marginal electorate

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