Sack Senator Bridget McKenzie for misconduct over sports grants

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Former Sport Minister Senator Bridget McKenzie must be held to account for her role in the biased and potentially illegal $100 million Community Sport Infrastructure Program.

The Australian National Audit Office has just released a damning report about the grants program. It is clear the program, overseen by Senator McKenzie, misused public funds and inappropriately awarded grants to the Coalition's target electorates, in the lead up to the 2019 Federal Election. 

We are calling on the Prime Minister to remove Senator McKenzie from her current responsibilities and investigate any possible misconduct by herself and her staff. 

In its report the Auditor-General found: 

- A lack of evidence that the Minister was legally allowed to approve the grants.

- 70% of winners in the second round were not on the list Sports Australia was going to recommend! Likewise, 73% of winners in the third round were not those recommended by the agency. Instead, the Minister's office did their own assessments that considered LOCATION of grants and other private criteria - this is completely inconsistent with the grant's own guidelines. They repeatedly ignored the merit-based lists provided by Sports Australia and approved their own lists of selected winners. 

This is a clear breach of ministerial and Australian public service standards. Senator McKenzie and her staff's conduct fly in the face of rules meant to ensure unbiased, merit-based allocations of public funds. What about the community sports groups in electorates that weren't target seats for the Coalition? People spent time and money developing their grants and the Sport Minister simply ignored recommendations about their merit for funding. She ignored the scheme's own guidelines and her responsibilities as a Federal minister. 

Australians are sick of our democracy being eroded. Trust in our politicians is dangerously low, and trust is a key measure of a healthy, functioning democratic system.

In a time of climate and human crisis we cannot afford to have unethical leaders handling our public purse strings. Senator McKenzie must be held to account for what appears to be illegal, corrupt conduct aimed at getting her party re-elected.



References:
https://www.anao.gov.au/work/performance-audit/award-funding-under-the-community-sport-infrastructure-program

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jan/15/coalition-gave-out-100m-election-grants-not-assessed-merit

[Image by CNBP (Flickr) 2014, licensed under CCBY2.0]