Scott Morrison has denied contemplating whether or not proposed sports activities grant initiatives had been situated in marginal or goal seats at a gathering with Bridget McKenzie in November 2018 that resulted in a $70m growth to this system.
In solutions to Guardian Australia, the prime minister’s workplace has addressed new proof from the Australian Nationwide Audit Workplace about its involvement within the controversial program.
The solutions don’t dispute that the prime minister’s workplace obtained lists of the marginal and goal standing of seats the place potential initiatives had been situated however denied that this decided the choice to develop it, which was carried out to “meet demand”.
The solutions additionally reveal the federal government is leaving open the likelihood it may fund an additional spherical of grants within the October finances for golf equipment that missed out on account of McKenzie’s intervention.
Final Wednesday, Australian Nationwide Audit Workplace officers revealed that the previous sports activities minister’s senior adviser had drawn up speaking factors for a gathering between McKenzie and Morrison, asking to develop the sports activities grant program to $100m on the premise it may fund 109 extra initiatives in goal and marginal seats, and noting that these had been a “precedence” in consultations with MPs.
Over the lifetime of the neighborhood sport infrastructure grant program, the prime minister’s workplace obtained 15 emails with spreadsheets displaying indicative lists of initiatives to be funded.
ANAO officers mentioned the primary of those on 18 October 2018 – sooner or later after McKenzie first requested Morrison develop this system – had been titled “copy of voters division of functions”.
Requested if Morrison denies contemplating the marginal or goal standing of seats when he and McKenzie met on 28 November 2018, a spokesperson for the prime minister replied: “Sure.”
The spokesperson quoted McKenzie’s written submission to the Senate inquiry that: “This former adviser’s memo was not used as a foundation for my selections at any stage within the course of. The memo was by no means supplied to me or seen by me.”
Requested why indicative venture lists included the marginal and goal standing of seats, the spokesperson mentioned the CSIG program had obtained greater than 2,050 functions totalling practically $400m, for a program price $30m on the time.
“Fairly clearly the previous minister needed to foyer for additional funding for a program inside her portfolio – that’s what ministers do.”
Requested why on four March, 2019 the prime minister’s workplace requested McKenzie for a listing of unfunded sports activities grant initiatives and a sign of what a 3rd spherical of this system would appear to be if accredited, the PMO replied it was “commonplace” to request extra info when growing coverage priorities or when extensions to program funding are sought.
“As has been highlighted beforehand, the prime minister’s workplace additionally works with ministerial places of work to coordinate timings of program bulletins.”
The prime minister’s spokesperson cited the findings of the secretary of the division of the prime minister and cupboard, Phil Gaetjens, that “the minister didn’t take political components as a major consideration in her selections”.
“[The CSIG] was prolonged to assist meet demand,” the spokesperson mentioned.
In January, a scathing auditor basic’s report discovered McKenzie had skewed the neighborhood sport infrastructure grant program in the direction of key marginal seats by working a parallel approval course of, overturning Sports activities Australia’s suggestions.
However in his report launched in February, Gaetjens discovered the separate funding approval course of performed within the minister’s workplace was not “unduly influenced by reference to marginal or focused electorates”.
McKenzie denies any wrongdoing, claiming in her written submission that electorates had been used to test there was a geographical unfold of initiatives and that functions in marginal and goal seats weren’t given “any priority or particular therapy”.
In January, Morrison mentioned he would “work with the treasurer to see how we will higher help much more initiatives sooner or later” – opening the likelihood that unsuccessful candidates may very well be given grants in a fourth spherical.
His spokesperson mentioned: “These issues are nonetheless into consideration by the federal government.”
The Beechworth tennis membership, represented by Maurice Blackburn, has challenged the legality of the CSIG program within the federal courtroom.