Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg reportedly announced $200,000 sports grants under the controversial $100 million program overseen by Bridget McKenzie, former sports minister. According to international media reports, Morrison also boasted about the program and reportedly said that it 'isn't about sport' but rather 'community'. However, Morrison and McKenzie have faced a lot of criticism and the former sports minister is also facing a growing pressure to resign over the handling of the community sports grant program.
The three clubs in Morrison's electorate of Cook received funding under the community sport infrastructure grant program reportedly include Lilli Pilli Football Club, which got $200,00, Sans Souci Football Club which received $50,000 and St George and Sutherland Shire Giants Baseball Club which was allotted $42,500. The auditor general recently also released a scathing report on the program and argued that the funding had a distributional bias in favour of marginal seats. She further also suggested that then sports minister may have lacked legal authority to approve grants.
Morrison was recently also asked if he or his office played any role in the allocation of the grants, to which he replied that the decisions were done in accordance with the process the minister set out. He reportedly also clarified that the prime minister's office has always relayed on representations made it by its members and the minister was the one making the decision on those grants programs. The auditor general, however, argued that 70 per cent of projects approved by McKenzie in the second round in March 2019 were not recommended by Sport Australia, rising to 73 per cent in the third round in April 2019 after an extra $40 million was tipped into the program.
The Australian PM and the former sports minister have always maintained that all the projects were eligible for funding and no rules were broken. Morrison has also asked the attorney general to clarify and address the legal issues raised by the auditor general. The funding has further led lawyers to warn that clubs which missed out on federal funding could bring court cases to overturn McKenzie's decision.