Quoting then Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie after the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) looked into her pork-barrelling of sports grants : “what’s the point of having a grants program if you can’t give handouts where they will have the greatest political return, helloo !”
You may recall that this whole thing blew up when a Liberal Party candidate in the Independently held seat of Mayo presented a bowls club with a large cheque courtesy the coalition. Very odd you may say, as this candidate wasn’t the elected member and had no authority to be handing out largesse on behalf of the coalition.
Labor reported this to the ANAO to look into. This from their report :
4. The decision to undertake the audit followed a request from the Shadow Attorney-General, the Hon Mark Dreyfus QC MP, for an audit into the circumstances surrounding the Liberal candidate for Mayo’s presentation of a cheque to the Yankalilla Bowling Club for a project that received $127,373 in funding under the second round. The key rationale for undertaking an audit was that Sport Australia (as a corporate Commonwealth entity) is not subject to the Commonwealth Grant Rules and Guidelines (CGRGs) when administering its grant programs.
The then Sports Minister, Bridget McKenzie said at the time there was nothing to see here and that she had absolute discretion over how coalition pork-barreling was administered ; the ANAO would beg to differ – again from their report :
24. There was evidence of distribution bias in the award of grant funding. Overall statistics indicate that the award of funding was consistent with the population of eligible applications received by state/territory, but was not consistent with the assessed merit of applications. The award of funding reflected the approach documented by the Minister’s Office of focusing on ‘marginal’ electorates held by the Coalition as well as those electorates held by other parties or independent members that were to be ‘targeted’ by the Coalition at the 2019 Election. Applications from projects located in those electorates were more successful in being awarded funding than if funding was allocated on the basis of merit assessed against the published program guidelines.
McKenzie is now Agriculture Minister and Deputy Leader of the National Party and her comments today fall into the categories of ;
- that’s the way we always do things in the coalition. Otherwise how would we win ?
- My career is going quite nicely, thank you. So please don’t rock the boat.
- We should sack the National Office of Audit as they are clearly all Lefties
- You all need to take a cold shower because we won the election : so there !
- Are you from the ABC ?
So far, the Prime Minister hasn’t commented but in true Westminster fashion it is fully expected that he will sack McKenzie before the week is out … or perhaps not.
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