Thursday, 3 September 2020
Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program; Order for the Production of Documents
I seek leave to move a motion relating to an order for the production of documents as circulated in the chamber.
Leave not granted.
Pursuant to contingent notice standing in the name of Senator Waters, I move:
That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Siewert moving a motion to provide for the consideration of a matter, namely, a motion to give precedence to a motion relating to an order for the production of documents.
What I'm seeking to do here is to move a motion from myself and Senator Farrell that calls that there be laid on the table by the minister for sport no later than 10 am on 7 September 2020 a copy of the talking points prepared by the office of the former minister for sport concerning the expansion of funding for the Community Sport Infrastructure grant program ahead of her meeting with the Prime Minister on 28 November 2018; any records of that 28 November 2018 meeting; the subsequent exchange of letters referring to that meeting as a basis for expanding funding for the Community Sport Infrastructure grant program; and any evidence the government is able to provide on the minister's legal authority to be the decision-maker in the Community Sport Infrastructure grant program
This is a program that has stunk for a very long time. There's a long list of documents that the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, and his Liberal Party machine have withheld from the parliament, which I have just listed and are listed in our motion. That is why it is so important that they are provided to this chamber and the public. The government have withheld legal advice from Sport Australia, who were perfectly happy to provide responses to these inquiries. It's easy for these things to get lost in all the procedural talk, but the truth is that this matters for everyday people out there in the community. It counts, and it's important for the people who were affected by this particular process. But it's also really important that we get to the bottom of this. If we don't, it could happen again, and we never want to see this sort of thing happen again.
I want to quote from one of the witnesses who appeared before the committee, Dr James Meyer, President of the Goolwa District Pony Club:
We put our heart and soul into these applications . We're doing it for nothing. We're going it for the love of the sport and the community that we're involved in. To have it tinkered with in such a disingenuous way is disappointing. Politicians might look at why we distrust them; it's activities like these that foster that distrust. We will obviously keep applying for grants, including local council, state and federal. We'll still put as much effort in, because we still want as good a chance as we can. We just want the same integrity and return that we put in to come back to us.
We can understand the anger and disappointment that people would feel on finding out about these rorts. We've heard from the Gippsland Ranges Roller Derby club, who had the highest assessment score in almost 2,000 evaluations but got nothing out of the funding in this rorted program. We've heard from clubs across the country about the hours they've put in—most of them by volunteers—preparing plans, getting approvals and writing submissions, only to see the funding go to country clubs chosen by the Liberal and National parties as part of what is pork-barrelling.
The Liberal Party should come clean with the Australian people about what they've done. They should provide us with these documents: a copy of those talking points ahead of that 28 November 2018 meeting; any records or explanations as to why they didn't minute a meeting where the PM approved an extra $30 million in funding; and a copy of the letter formalising the agreement between the Prime Minister and the minister at the time, Minister McKenzie. They should also provide some basic legal evidence for the minister's legal authority even to have been the decision-maker in this program. It is frankly just astonishing that in all of the evidence here in the chamber and in the committee inquiry, there has not been a single piece of evidence put forward as to the basis on which the minister has the legal authority to be the decision-maker.
This program stinks to high heaven. This is why we have taken the step of moving to suspend standing orders to get this OPD through to get these documents on the table. It's critically important that we get to the bottom of how these rorts happened and make sure they never happen like this again.