Scattered reports from various outlets are now suggesting that sports minister Bridget McKenzie is expected to step down from the Government front bench as early as tomorrow afternoon, amid a growing storm of controversy over her handling of the Sports Rorts scandal.
Senator McKenzie, the Deputy Leader of the National Party, reportedly dined with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, and Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg last night. Sky News today reports that her resignation from the Government front bench is now imminent.
Senator McKenzie has been the epicentre of a growing controversy, one the Prime Minister and various Government officials have repeatedly rebuffed as fine and normal, regarding her handling of a $100 million grants program for local sporting organisations, that was instead blatantly used by McKenzie to pork barrel electorates that were crucial to the Coalition’s electoral hopes.
In one particularly egregious example, Senator McKenzie approved a $36,000 grant to the Wangaratta Clay Target Club without disclosing to Government officials that she had joined the club as a quote-unquote “full paying member” just one month prior to the grant being approved.
The scheme was pillored by the Auditor General in a scathing report that spelled out the Government’s misuse of the funds, which often ignored grant applications recommended by the scheme in favour of funnelling money into organisations within marginal Coalition seats. That money was handed out during the lead-up to the 2019 election over a period of months.
As part of the grant funding, Scott Morrison‘s local Lilli Pilli Football Club was granted $200,000 to aid club room construction. Facebook posts from club officials even went so far as to state the funding was coming, and commenced construction well before the grant was announced, and even while grant applications were still being processed.
Morrison and his various cohorts are yet to speak out against the blatant rorting in public. It remains to be seen what, if any, comment they’ll make in the wake of this now-likely resignation.