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Despite Scott Morrison claiming he had no direct connection with the “sports rorts” scandal, more than one hundred emails from his office say otherwise.
The Prime Minister has been further dragged into the ‘sports rorts’ scandal, after it became known that Morrison exchanged 136 emails with former sports minister Bridget McKenzie, and one club in his electorate received funding despite being ineligible.
The Senate revealed that Morrison was present at the Sans Souci Football Club. The club was given $50,000 despite the project they received funding for was almost complete. The documents are clear in the PM’s involvement, stating “it is worth noting that the club initially missed out on the first two rounds of funding under the Community Sport Infrastructure grant program”.
“The club was subsequently funded in round three…during the intervening period, the club has fundraised and the project is almost completed.”
A spokesman for the prime minister said the project was “approved for funding by the then minister for sport based on its assessed eligibility by Sport Australia”.
Morrison has long stood his ground over the scandal, maintaining that he had no direct correspondence (or influence) regarding the funding. The presence of these emails contravenes that.
In February, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) sensationally claimed that 43% of the projects awarded funds through the sports grant scheme were ineligible, contradicting Scott Morrison’s oft-repeated promises that there were no ineligible projects awarded money.
43 per cent of the projects funded under the controversial sports grants scheme were ineligible, the audit office told a Senate inquiry.
— News Breakfast (@BreakfastNews) February 13, 2020
As AAP noted in January “an independent review released last week, found the Morrison government used the sports grants program as a virtual slush fund for its re-election efforts, overlooking projects approved by an independent panel in favour of splashing cash in ‘targeted’ seats.”
“Every single one of the projects approved was eligible, every rule followed in relation to the program. The rules were followed. We are looking closely at the report,” Prime Minister Morrison told Seven’s Sunrise on the morning of January 20.
Yesterday, the Australian National Audit Office redoubled the findings of their report tabled by the Australian National Audit Office was extremely critical of the way in which the A$100 million in sporting grants were awarded by Minister McKenzie ahead of last year’s election campaign.
It found successful applications were “not those that had been assessed as the most meritorious” and that there was “distributional bias” in the way projects were approved. The problem is many of the grants were awarded to bodies within marginal seats or seats the Coalition wanted to win.
Crucially, Morrison has thrown McKenzie under the bus, claiming that he had little influence over the way the cash flowed. However, ANAO officials also revealed the prime minister’s office made “direct” representations about which projects to fund, and the Liberal National Party of Queensland submitted a wish-list of projects in a key marginal seat.
Prior to her dismissal, Senator McKenzie said that “no rules were broken” and she was given discretionary powers “for a purpose” in the program’s guidelines.
“What that actually meant was that there were more projects supported and funded in Labor seats than if that ministerial discretion had not been deployed,” Senator McKenzie said.
A report tabled by the Australian National Audit Office was extremely critical of the way in which the A$100 million in sporting grants were awarded by Minister McKenzie ahead of last year’s election campaign.
Since, the Morrison government has survived an internal investigation by the PM’s secretary, one that will never purportedly be released to the public. Gazing at the repeated scandal, and where the money was directed, this can only be viewed as severe political corruption, an act that clearly influenced the shock result in last year’s election.
Morrison is caught in a very serious, very obvious lie. So, what happens now?