Thursday, 3 September 2020
Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program; Order for the Production of Documents
Every day we learn more about the scale of the rorting by the Liberal and the National parties, and last night's hearing of the select inquiry into sports rorts revealed so much more. It is absolutely vital that the government comes clean—and that it comes clean quickly—and reveals the extent to which they rorted this grants program basically to turn it into a pre-election slush fund aimed at shoring up votes in targeted and marginal seats.
Last night we learned that, despite all the public spin, the Prime Minister was deeply involved in deciding to rort this whole program to try to buy votes in marginal and targeted seats and, in doing so, overturning the recommendations of Sport Australia and trashing the trust of people and sports clubs across the country who had thought that their grant was being assessed in a fair and objective process where it didn't matter where you lived or who you knew in order to get funded. I want to take you through some of the details of what we learned last night, because they highlight the importance of the documents that we are seeking under this order for the production of documents and why we need to see them absolutely pronto.
We found out that, before Sport Australia had even finished assessing their applications, former Minister McKenzie wrote to the Prime Minister on 17 October 2018 seeking extra funding, and she provided the Prime Minister with a spreadsheet entitled 'Copy of Electorate Divisions of Applications'. What this is is pretty clear just from the title of that document. In other words, 'Here's what you need to know, Prime Minister—which electorates the grants under this community sports infrastructure program are in.' This was before Sport Australia had even finished assessing the applications.
McKenzie's office was emailing the Prime Minister's office with information about whether they were in targeted or marginal seats in order to ask for extra funding. And then, a few weeks later, in November, McKenzie's office sent two more spreadsheets to the Prime Minister's office prior to a meeting that she had scheduled with the Prime Minister on 20 November. One spreadsheet's got the details of the $30 million program, and the other's got the detail of a $100 million and identifies that there would be 109 more grants—