Tuesday, 8 December 2020
Questions without Notice
Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program
My question is to the Minister for Youth and Sport, Senator Colbeck. The Morrison government-controlled Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit found the administration of the $100 million sports rorts scandal 'did not satisfy public and community expectations'. Does the minister agree with the findings of the government-controlled committee, which includes coalition senators Chandler, O'Sullivan and Scarr?
I thank Senator Green for her question and I thank the senators and House of Reps members on the Public Accounts and Audit Committee for their work on the report. The report was tabled in the House yesterday, obviously. The government will appropriately consider the recommendations in the report and then we will, as process dictates, respond to the parliament. The committee considered a number of programs as part of its inquiry. As I've said, we will consider the report in the usual manner and make a government response.
In respect of the recommendations the ANAO made and the Public Accounts and Audit Committee report made yesterday, the government has already taken a number of actions with respect to the application of the government grant guidelines and their alignment. Sport Australia accepted all three recommendations that the ANAO made to them in the ANAO report. The government accepted the recommendation that was directed to the government and has put in place measures to effect all of the recommendations of the ANAO report. The recommendations in the report handed down yesterday had a very similar context, so we will consider those matters and we will report to the parliament in the usual way.
The government-controlled committee found there was 'significant uncertainty regarding the legal basis for the minister's role in approving grants'. Does the minister agree that Senator McKenzie should appear before the Select Committee on Administration of Sports Grants to explain her understanding of decision-making, including the involvement of the Prime Minister?
It's not up to me to determine what another senator does. That is not my role. My understanding is that Senator McKenzie has provided a substantial submission to the committee. She's provided support to the committee with respect to their work. But it is not the role of one individual senator in this place, any individual senator, to dictate what another senator might do. We are all elected here in our own right.
Senator Wong interjecting—
My understanding of the circumstances is that the committee has written to Senator McKenzie seeking her further assistance. Senator McKenzie will clearly make a decision with respect to it.
If even the government controlled committee, which includes Senators Chandler, O'Sullivan and Scarr, acknowledges evidence of the favouritism shown to government seats and MPs and Liberal Party candidates in the allocation of sport grants, why can't the Prime Minister tell the truth?
I'm not sure that I would characterise the report in the context that Senator Green tries to portray it in the chamber today. Having had a look at the report and having considered its recommendations, I can say it talks about the processes of the operation of a number of grant programs, including the Community Sport Infrastructure grant program. We will consider the report, as appropriate, and we will respond to the parliament in the usual way. I don't accept the characterisation of the mindset of my colleagues on that committee that Senator Green tries to portray in her question.