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Sport Australia advice ignored by former Federal Sports Ministers in award of community sport infrastructure funds

Sport Australia advice ignored by former Federal Sports Ministers in award of community sport infrastructure funds
November 8, 2019

Former Federal Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie rejected 618 applications for community sports infrastructure despite recommendations from Federal Government agency Sport Australia to approve the projects as part of the $100 million Community Sport Infrastructure grants program.

The program is being investigated by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), with Senator McKenzie's home state of Victoria receiving a quarter of the funding.

While rejecting recommended programs, Senator McKenzie (pictured), the Nationals Deputy Leader, approved an undisclosed number of programs, many in marginal electorates, not endorsed by Sport Australia.

There were 684 projects approved from more than 2000 applications, but Victoria received more funding than any other state in a scheme dubbed "dodgy" by the Federal Labor opposition.

The program first came under scrutiny when Liberal candidate Georgina Downer, the daughter of former Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, presented a novelty cheque for $127,000 to a South Australian bowling club instead of local MP Rebekha Sharkie In the lead up to the May election.

It prompted the ANAO to examine whether applications were assessed within the guidelines, with a report due in the coming weeks.

Sport Australia Chief Executive Kate Palmer, Chief Executive of Federal Government agency Sport Australia, admitted at a committee hearing last Wednesday some grants may not have been recommended by her government agency.

A Sport Australia spokesperson subsequently told AAP that with the scheme the subject of a performance audit it was "not appropriate" to comment further.

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