Sports rorts affair escalates as Audit Office takes stand

Brian Boyd from the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has given evidence on the first day of a parliamentary inquiry into the so-called sports rort affair. Boyd said that around 43% of clubs that received grants under the Community Sport Infrastructure program were ineligible to do so by the time the funding agreements were signed. Auditor-General Grant Hehir told the inquiry that “comfortably dozens” of emails were exchanged between the Prime Minister’s office and the office of senator Bridget McKenzie during the grants process:

Mr Hehir said the awarding of grant funding under the program was not ­informed by an “appropriate assessme­nt process and sound advice­”.

He said the parallel process run by Senator McKenzie’s office alongside that of government agency Sport Australia “was not informed by clear advice and … not consistent with the program guidelines”…

“We get to around 43 per cent of those which were awarded funding, by the time the funding agreement was signed, were in­eligible,” Mr Boyd said…

Mr Hehir confirmed that if the merit list devised by Sport Aust­ralia had been followed, Labor seats would have received the same percentage of funding they ended up with using Senator McKenzie’s method.

Mr Boyd said “comfortably dozens” of emails were exchanged between the Prime Minister’s Office­ and Senator McKenzie’s office­ during the grants process.

He also confirmed that project approval oscillated wildly between yes and no, sometimes within hours, with no reasons recorded.

Mr Hehir said in his opening statement: “It is poor practice for entities to be instructed what their advice should recommend rather than providing their own re­commend­ations that are developed through an evidence-based ­approach.

It’s time to produce the Phil Gaetjens report Scott Morrison claims clears the grants. Why is it still being suppressed?

Better yet, implement a federal ICAC.

Leith van Onselen
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