Bridget McKenzie has taken full duty for the $100m sports activities grants program regardless of blaming unnamed workers for late changes made during the caretaker period before the 2019 election.
In a short and heated look earlier than the Senate sports activities grants inquiry on Friday, McKenzie claimed the prime minister’s workplace performed no position in approving grants however stated its suggestions was one “enter” she thought of.
The previous sports activities minister instructed the inquiry she was assured that talking points drawn up by her senior adviser for her to advocate to Scott Morrison to increase this system weren’t mentioned with the prime minister – regardless of McKenzie claiming to not know the doc’s content material.
The sports activities rorts controversy was ignited in January 2020 when the auditor common launched a scathing report that discovered McKenzie’s workplace had carried out a parallel course of to evaluate candidates to the $100m group sport infrastructure grant program, skewing grants in the direction of Coalition goal and marginal seats.
Though McKenzie resigned over an undisclosed sports activities membership membership from one of many recipient golf equipment, she maintains there was no wrongdoing in her administration of the scheme.
On Friday McKenzie was requested about nine late changes made to the list of projects approved within the third and closing spherical of grant funding – adjustments made after the federal government had entered caretaker mode on 11 April 2019.
McKenzie famous that she had already refuted “false claims” that she had backdated a short signed four April, explaining she had signed it on that date however adjustments have been later made to the hooked up record by unnamed workers.
“My expectation is any adjustments to the attachment would have generated a brand new temporary,” she stated.
“The temporary was processed in my workplace, and despatched to Sport Australia in my workplace. The [prime minister’s office] was not chargeable for altering the attachment to the spherical three temporary. It was submitted to Sport Australia, not in a well timed method, from my workplace.”
Requested about the truth that one of many 9 late adjustments was requested by the prime minister’s workplace, McKenzie conceded that her workplace “acquired representations proper all through this system” however she was chargeable for the ultimate record.
“The prime minister didn’t have a job in authorising tasks all through the three rounds – and the ultimate resolution maker was me. I take duty for all the selections taken on this program.”
McKenzie argued that the auditor-general’s discovering that she skewed this system to marginal and goal seats was based mostly on a “singular e-mail” memo a former adviser despatched to themselves.
That doc is a set of talking points prepared by her senior adviser for a November 2018 assembly between McKenzie and Morrison to argue for the enlargement of this system by demonstrating what number of extra tasks in marginal and focused seats may very well be funded by increasing this system from $30m to $100m.
McKenzie stated she had by no means seen it and was “by no means” conscious of its content material.
Requested if her senior adviser used the doc to temporary her, McKenzie replied: “I can’t recall that, however I completely categorically deny that that was a topic mentioned on the assembly with the prime minister.
“I do know what occurred on the assembly, nevertheless it wasn’t mentioned. We mentioned how in style this system was, ‘may I’ve some more cash please’, ‘sure you may’, that’s a abstract [of the meeting].”
McKenzie stated neither the doc nor the marginal and goal standing of seats have been thought of in her resolution making.
McKenzie stated that 136 emails exchanged between her and the prime minister’s workplace together with 15 attaching spreadsheets of tasks listed by voters was “commonplace”.
Solutions from the prime minister’s workplace have been simply one of many “inputs” into her decision-making, together with representations from different ministers and MPs – however not Coalition marketing campaign headquarters, she stated.
McKenzie described the $100m program as “wildly in style and extremely profitable”, and “fully” rejected that the train of her ministerial discretion “resulted in unfavourable politicisation of this system”.
McKenzie claimed that the colour-coded spreadsheets have been used to make sure a broad geographical unfold of tasks and that her intervention really elevated the variety of tasks accredited in Labor seats.
Along with the Senate inquiry, the $100m program is the topic of a federal court docket problem from Beechworth Garden Tennis Membership, which argues McKenzie lacked the legal authority to make sports grants.