Maria O’Sullivan writes in The Conversation (17.1.20) about the ‘sports rorts’ scandal rocking the federal government, with calls for Nationals deputy leader and former Sports Minister, Bridget McKenzie, to resign over her intervention in sports grant allocations.
‘When Australians pay their income tax, they assume the money is going to areas of the community that need it, rather than being used by the government to shore up votes for the next election.
‘This is why the findings of the Australian National Audit Office into the awarding of community sporting grants by cabinet minister Bridget McKenzie are serious. Not merely for the grant funding process, but also for trust in our system of government.
‘The Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program was established in 2018 to ensure more Australians have access to quality sporting facilities, encouraging greater community participation in sport and physical activity.
‘The Audit Office was asked to examine this grant program to assess whether the award of funding “was informed by an appropriate assessment process and sound advice”. The focus was therefore on whether proper procedures were followed.
‘The report 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.’
- So the government gave sports grants to marginal seats. What happens now? »
- Bridget McKenzie won’t rule out using grants to target marginal seats »
- Upmarket tennis and golf clubs among recipients of major sports grants »
- Sport grants: more than $1m given to nine clubs linked to Coalition MPs »
- Scott Morrison’s local soccer club boasted about funding weeks before grants announced »
- Sports clubs that missed out in $100m grants program could bring class action »
- McKenzie downplays membership of shooting club given almost $36,000 in controversial sports grants program »
- Sports grants: Michael McCormack stands by Bridget McKenzie, saying she has done ‘outstanding job’ »
- Grattan on Friday: Bridget McKenzie has made herself a sitting duck »
- McKenzie joined a gun club four days before approving grant funding »
- The adventures of Bridget McKenzie have left Scott Morrison with a ghastly choice »
- Sports grants program awarded $248,000 to club with Nationals MP as life member »
- ‘A nice round $200,000’ for Queensland football club »
- In defence of Bridget McKenzie »
- While Bridget McKenzie hovers in no man’s land, we’re left waiting for a clear explanation »
- Scott Morrison orders probe into whether Bridget McKenzie breached ministerial code »
- What’s all this talk about sports grants? The whole saga explained »
- Bridget McKenzie reignites sports rorts affair by denying late changes to grants »
- Why our low opinion of politicians lets them get away with rorting »
- Rorts scandals in politics are rife. So what exactly are the rules? »
- Fund them all: ‘Sports rorts’ committee wants cash for rejected projects »
- The ‘car park rorts’ story is scandalous. But it will keep happening unless we close grant loopholes »
- Coalition-held seats awarded billions in federal government grant money, analysis finds »
- How $2.8 billion of your money is spent – it grossly favours Coalition seats »
- Coalition targets marginal seats with almost $3bn in election spending promises »
Why we need strong ethical standards for ministers – and better ways of enforcing them
Howard Whitton writes in The Conversation (24.1.20) about how governments have grappled for years to devise ethical standards for ministers and other public officials. But codes are only part of the answer, with the author reminding that MPs must also take responsibility for their own conduct.
‘Prime Minister Scott Morrison has asked the head of his department to investigate whether Bridget McKenzie violated ministerial standards when she dispensed sports grants to clubs in marginal seats and those being targeted by the Coalition in last year’s election.
‘It is generally accepted by Australians that “public office is a public trust”. The nature and extent of that trust, however, is continuously being debated.
‘This is especially true in an age of virtually unlimited potential for scrutiny of governments, and unlimited scope for the court of public opinion to take submissions (and make judgements) about ministerial conduct – well-founded or otherwise.
‘The late (and much lamented) John Clarke once told me his main role as satirist-in-residence to the nation was to remind the Australian people how fragile their democratic institutions are.
‘Almost a decade later, we are told on good authority that a significant proportion of young Australians do not trust “government”, to the point where many might well prefer military rule.
‘This is one reason why codified and enforceable standards of ministerial ethics and conduct will remain relevant – and expected – in our country.’
- Why we need strong ethical standards for ministers – and better ways of enforcing them »
- ‘Reverse pork-barrelling’: McKenzie defends sports cash splash in marginal seats »
- Bridget McKenzie facing calls to quit after auditors condemn ‘biased’ sports cash splash »
- Mounting calls for Bridget McKenzie to resign over ‘extraordinary’ grant allocation »
- Federal ICAC would investigate sports grants affair, former NSW auditor-general says »
- Bridget McKenzie didn’t have legal power over sports grants, law expert Anne Twomey says »
- Bridget McKenzie’s sports grants program may be unconstitutional, expert warns »
- Scott Morrison outsources Bridget McKenzie’s future to the bureaucrats she ignored in awarding sports grants »
- Explainer: Bridget McKenzie is digging in over calls to resign but does her defence stack up? »
- Bridget McKenzie’s office told ‘not appropriate’ to approve sports grants after applications closed »
- Sport Australia complained about political interference in the Government’s sports grants program »
- Bridget McKenzie sport rorts: Drought funding overseen by minister went to ineligible councils »
- Scott Morrison’s ‘resilience’ speech overshadowed as McKenzie crisis deepens »
- Nationals candidates the big winners in late pre-election sports grants bonanza »
- Bridget McKenzie’s ministerial career hangs in the balance in wake of sports grants scandal »
- The sports rorts remind us politics is a ‘game of mates’. We need an independent umpire »
- Sports rorts changes everything. It’s time for a federal Icac »
- Peter Dutton’s office fast-tracked one-off grant proposal days after donation given to support him »
- Why Peter Dutton has questions to answer over grants »
- Peter Dutton, Bridget McKenzie put democracy at risk by playing with public money »
- Another day, another rorts scandal – this time with car parks. How can we fix the system? »
- Car park program shows Australia must adopt Commonwealth Integrity Commission ASAP: governance experts »
- Coalition’s car park scheme was shoddy and shameless »
- Accountability is under threat. Parliament must urgently reset the balance »
- Audit office finds former government ignored departmental advice, awarded Nationals seats $104 million more in grant funding »
Scott Morrison wants the sports rorts mess to be over with McKenzie’s exit. It won’t be
Katharine Murphy writes in The Guardian (2.2.20) that Scott Morrison’s ‘lack of transparency’ in dealing with the troubled sports grants program deepens concerns about government accountability.
‘Standards, Scott Morrison told us on the Sunday afternoon before the opening of federal parliament for 2020, are about accountability.
‘Except, self-evidently, when standards are not about accountability; when standards are actually about shifting the goalposts so you can get through the latest debacle.
‘Like when a prime minister, in this case – exactly the same prime minister dropping the piety about standards being about accountability – declines point blank to be accountable, declines to release new advice completely at odds with the auditor general’s assessment of the stinky debacle that is the sports grants program.
‘… In what universe does that address the underlying issues? In what universe does that response satisfy voters that governance in this country is OK, and proceeding in an orderly and competent fashion, in the interests of people, whether they live in a marginal seat, or whether they don’t?’
- Scott Morrison wants the sports rorts mess to be over with McKenzie’s exit. It won’t be »
- McKenzie’s exit puts a strain on Coalition »
- Sport grant scandal a stain on Prime Minister’s tenure »
- Bridget McKenzie quits frontbench after report finds she breached ministerial standards »
- Bridget McKenzie’s ministerial career comes to a sudden end after an unexpected rise »
- View from The Hill: Bridget McKenzie falls – but for the lesser of her political sins »
- Remembrance of rorts past: why the McKenzie scandal might not count for a hill of beans »
- Don’t hold your breath waiting for the truth on Bridget McKenzie’s sports rort »
- Embattled McKenzie resigns from federal cabinet over ‘sports rorts’ affair »
- The sports rorts saga has become a political vulnerability that can’t be explained away »
- View from The Hill: We need to see Gaetjens’ report on McKenzie – not least for Gaetjens’ sake »
- The ‘sports rorts’ affair shows the need for a proper federal ICAC – with teeth »
- Coalition quietly spent another $150m sports grant fund during election campaign »
- Government’s $150 million female sports program funnelled into swimming pools for marginal Coalition seats »
- Grattan on Friday: In tune with the summer, a week of wildness starts the parliamentary year »
- Coalition donor received $5.5m grant despite potentially being ineligible »
- Scott Morrison wants the nation to trust him – but how can we after sports rorts? »
- More ‘sports rort’ questions for Morrison after Bridget McKenzie speaks out »
- Scott Morrison denies misleading parliament over sports rorts saga »
- Sports rorts: Bridget McKenzie to give evidence but says inquiry appearance a ‘cheap political stunt’ »
- Michael McCormack and secret group of ministers funded projects against department recommendations »
- ‘Here’s the seat, here’s the dollars’: Auditors say marginal seats guided car park fund »
- ‘I don’t care what they call it’: Joyce will push on with regional cash splashes »
- Does pork-barrelling actually work? New research suggests it’s not a big vote winner »
- Business blast: Point scoring, pork barrelling and sledging is no way to run a country »