HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 17 MARCH 2021
In 2018-19, the Australian government ran a program known as the Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program. It had three rounds: December 2018, February 2019 and April 2019. According to the Australian National Audit Office, if the process was based purely on Sport Australia's assessed merit, applications would have been approved if they had a score over 74. However, the Audit Office found that 417 applications, 61 per cent of the total approved, had a score below that cut-off. That of course meant that many worthy projects missed out.
Last year, I tabled the full list of sports rorts grants, which included the Sport Australia scores. Among those were four Canberra projects which scored higher than 74 but were not funded.
Braddon Tennis Club applied for $90,678 for its revitalisation project. It scored 77 and was not funded. The ACT government applied for $500,000 for the Boomanulla Oval refurbishment. It scored 80.5 and was not funded. The ACT government also applied for $200,000 for the installation of floodlights on Bonner neighbourhood oval. It scored 77 and was not funded. The Belconnen Tennis Club applied for $50,000 for a court lighting upgrade. It scored 82 and was not funded.
The minister, Senator McKenzie, ultimately was forced to resign and took full responsibility. This is despite the fact that the colour-coded spreadsheet that she operated was put together following 136 emails between the Prime Minister's office and hers, including one from the Prime Minister's office saying:
These are the ones we think should be included in the list of approved projects.
Sports rorts is just one of the many rorts that have taken place under this government, including the Leppington Triangle, and the watergate and grasslands affairs involving the Minister for Energy and the Environment. But this one went straight to affect members of my communities.
As Martin Klein, the president of Belconnen Tennis Club, said in his submission:
... we were somewhat perturbed that processes other than the Sports Australia assessment, may have been used to determine who was funded.
These local clubs are the salt of the earth in the Canberra community. They work tirelessly and they deserve better than a federal government that hands out money based on colour-coded spread sheets and conniving from the Prime Minister's office.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.