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Queensland Sport Grants Went to Labor electorates

Queensland Sport Grants Went to Labor electorates
September 9, 2009

The Queensland Government has been accused of directing grants for sports funding to Labor electorates, and delaying announcements until immediately prior to February's State election.

According to a report in Brisbane newspaper The Courier-Mail, Queensland's Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) has been asked to investigate allegations of favouritism in the allocation of sports grants with $23.6 million of funding going to Australian Labor Party seats while only $5.2 million to non-ALP seats.

The Courier-Mail claims to have had access to leaked Queensland Department of Communities, Sport and Recreation files showing grants were approved for 32 ALP electorates while smaller amounts on average went to seven Liberal/National Party seats, and one to Gladstone held by an independent.

The Courier-Mail also refers to a Queensland Department of Communities, Sport and Recreation official who alleged that advice from assessing officers was largely ignored, with money allocated to seven projects considered at high risk of never being completed or fully utilised, and 11 projects considered at medium risk. The official produced files showing applications were also received after the closing date.

Two grants were approved in or near the old electorate of then Sport Minister Judy Spence, one a 'high risk' grant of $235,000 to MacGregor State High School.

Two large grants also went to Cairns where Desley Boyle, now Local Government Minister, was defending her seat against a spirited Opposition campaign.

One payment of $1.3 million for hockey fields in north Cairns was deemed high risk, and another of $450,000 for walking trails was considered a medium risk.

The Rockhampton electorate of Works Minister Robert Schwarten and the nearby ALP seat of Keppel also received grants for 'high risk' projects.

There are already two separate CMC investigations into alleged abuses of the Bligh Government's major facilities program with a former Government policy adviser being investigated by the CMC for allegedly channelling $200,000 worth of grants to his rugby club.

The Courier-Mail also revealed that the grant assessments were completed last year but staff were allegedly ordered by superiors not to act on them for months so they could be rolled out in February on the eve of the state election.

The report continued "leaked ministerial briefing notes suggest at least five major grants were awarded to organisations whose applications were lodged after the official closing date.

"And some groups who lodged inadequate applications were invited to reapply.

"The MacGregor High School bid was approved despite a briefing note warning 'no designs or documentation have been provided on the project' which added 'Key milestones are not achievable so the project is unlikely to be completed within the project funding period (and) no funding confirmation has been provided.'

Concerns were also raised over the funding of a major new indoor sports centre for the YMCA in the Brisbane Central electorate held by Labor's Grace Grace. Despite it being declared a 'high risk' project, it won a $1.5 million grant.

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