Albanese: sport grants rort "just stinks"

OPPOSITION Leader Anthony Albanese says top bureaucrat Phil Gaetjens must show his independence in the sports grants scandal, which "just stinks".

On Friday, Mr Gaetjens, the secretary to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet,  wrote to the Senate inquiry into the sports grants saga that toppled former sports minister Bridget McKenzie.

Mr Gaetjen's report to Cabinet remains under wraps, but he told the inquiry while there were some "significant shortcomings" with respect to the minister's decision-making role, her office's separate approval processes were not unduly influenced by reference to "marginal" or "targeted" seats.

But Mr Albanese disagreed, saying this "giant pork barrel" led to money being allocated with "politics being first, second and third priority".

"Phil Gaetjens ... needs to not just be independent of the political interests of the government, he needs to be seen to be as well," Mr Albanese told reporters in Perth on Saturday.

"Which is why Mr Gaetjens should himself, if the Prime minister won't, make his report public."

Senator Bridget McKenzie lost her ministry. Picture: Gary Ramage
Senator Bridget McKenzie lost her ministry. Picture: Gary Ramage

He said Prime Minister Scott Mission had on 16 occasions said all the grants are eligible, but the Senate inquiry heard this week from the Auditor General that 43 per cent weren't.

"This is a massive scandal," Mr Albanese said.

"This just stinks, everyone knows it does and it needs to be cleaned up and it can never ever happen again."

Liberal MP Tim Wilson defended the government's actions, saying the projects said to be ineligible were because of a "silly technicality".

The grants are not supposed to go to projects that are already built.

"They were awarded, they started building. Then by the time all the paperwork was signed off, they had commenced," Mr Wilson told ABC television.