Labor accused of ‘blatant pork barrelling’ over sport grants
The Palaszczuk Government awarded sports grants that weren't recommended and knocked back others that were in improperly documented decisions that favoured Labor seats, an audit has found.
A damning review of Queensland grants by the Auditor-General, sparked by the infamous federal sports rorts, found Sports Minister Mick de Brenni altered 33 grants in two sports programs and hand-picked all 46 applications in a third, without recording any of his reasoning.But he says he had to because his department "did not get it right", denying the decisions were for political reasons.
The report found Mr de Brenni awarded an extra $150,000 to a state sports organisation in a neighbouring Labor electorate under the Get Playing Places and Spaces program.
He made 32 changes to a Female Facilities Program, rejecting 14 grants recommended by the department and approving 18 that had been rejected by public servants, including two in his electorate.
Auditor-General Brendan Worrall also found the Minister made all decisions himself relating to the Active Community Infrastructure Kickstart grants in June 2019, selecting 46 applications from a list of 136 approved applicants provided by the department.
"Neither his reasons for selecting the applications, nor the assessment criteria used were documented," the report said.
"The department was unable to provide any official record between the department and minister to evidence this selection."
Mr Worrall found while there was equitable distribution across electorates held by different parties, Mr de Brenni's intervention did increase the numbers of grants for Labor electorates and reduced those that had been recommended in LNP-held seats.
Asked if he was playing politics, Mr de Brenni said: "Of course not."
He said he had to get involved because his department had made "errors" he needed to fix to "make it fairer".
"I didn't think the department's investment logic was sound and I wanted to ensure that more clubs had more opportunities, particularly those clubs that don't have big sources of revenue from pokies," he said.
Mr de Brenni said the department had already "modernised" processes, and accepted its record-keeping processes needed improving.
Opposition sport spokesman John-Paul Langbroek said "blatant political pork barrelling" had been uncovered, with Female Facilities Program grants to Labor electorates having increased from 44 to 68 per cent, while the share won by LNP electorates decreased from 43 to 28 per cent.
"The Palaszczuk Government has ripped money off 14 community sport clubs to pork-barrel Labor seats," he said.
"Annastacia Palaszczuk needs to show some leadership and sack him."
He said those 14 organisations that missed out should be publicly released.
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Originally published as Labor accused of 'blatant pork barrelling' over sports grants