Scott Morrison has been going on about how Labor came up with his “Scotty from Marketing” nickname (they didn’t, the Betoota Advocate did), but he should probably focus more on the sports grants scandal that’s taken over headlines than worrying over a nickname he didn’t come up with himself.
Since it’s a little hard to keep track of whatever hole Scotty from Marketing has found himself in due to the amount of shenanigans that’s already happened in 2020, we’ve decided to cobble together an explainer on what this sports grants scandal thing is and how our PM is involved (again).
So what is this sports grant scandal?
According to The Guardian, the Australian National Audit Office released its report into the awarding of funding under the Community Sport Infrastructure Program and found that the Coalition awarded $100 million (not a typo) in sports grants to “marginal” and “targeted” seats in the 2019 federal election rather than projects on their own merits or recommendations from Sports Australia.
The absolutely scathing report by auditor general Grant Hehir found that of the 684 projects that were given $100 million in sports grants by then-Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie over three rounds of funding in the months prior to the 2019 federal election, 420 weren’t endorsed by Sports Australia and showed “distribution bias.”
The Guardian reports that several upscale, Liberal-linked sports clubs were award several tens to hundreds of thousands in sports grants instead of projects that actually needed the money.
The report also found that had a merit-based process been used, the cut-off score would’ve been 74 out of 100 and 417 of the projects approved for sports grants wouldn’t have made the cut.
Wait, isn’t that illegal?
All this could very well be illegal.
The report (via ABC) states that then-Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie had ignored Sports Australia’s recommendations, had no apparent legal authority or constitutional power to give sports grants to the approved projects, and had carried out her own assessment process on what projects will get money.
Having apparently dabbled in a touch of shady sports grants dealings in order to help the Coalition in the 2019 federal election, there have been calls for Bridget McKenzie to resign. However, Scott Morrison (via SBS) and Nationals leader Michael McCormack has defended her and said everything was totally cool and there’s nothing to see here.
Interestingly, Scotty did seem eager to avoid certain questions about whether his office played a part in using sports grants to target marginal seats before conceding perhaps his office may have been involved.
Okay, so how does Scotty from Marketing fit into all of this?
Staunchly defending what appears to be a blatant case of unsavoury political antics involving taxpayer-funded sports grants is a pretty bad look, but it appears that Scott Morrison is more involved in this scandal than it initially appeared as it is reported that he personally announced funding for clubs in his electorate.
According to The Guardian, three clubs in Scotty from Marketing’s electorate of Cook received sports grants: the Lilli Pilli Football Club ($200,000); Sans Souci Football Club ($50,000); and St George and Sutherland Shire Giants Baseball Club ($42,500).
But the juiciest tidbit from all of this is the ABC‘s report on how the Lilli Pilli Football Club – which Scotty from Marketing has been involved with for years – bragged it had received a sports grant months before they were properly announced.
The hole kept getting deeper when it was found that Scotty personally announced these sports grants for the aforementioned clubs and there were receipts of him doing it (via The Guardian).
So what next?
According to SBS, Federal Attorney General Christian Porter will be leading a review into this sports grants scandal – despite his own electorate getting a million bucks in funding from the sports funding program. It is reported that the review will be limited to assessing whether Bridget McKenzie had the legal authority to determine successful grant recipients, which will hopefully answer the aforementioned question of whether all this is illegal or not.
It ultimately remains to be seen what ultimately happens with this review but if we’ve learned something from the 2020 season of Scotty from Marketing shenanigans, it’s than literally anything can happen and the bar can always be lowered even further.
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