Sports Rorts Scandal: Email Reveals Morrison's Office Was Involved
Scott Morrison was adamant his office wasn't involved in the sports rorts scandal, but 10 News First can reveal that the PM’s office was involved in directing where the millions in sports funding went.
Morrison has denied his office was involved in the grants scandal for almost two weeks.
Earlier this week the PM sought to distance his office from the scandal after a scathing auditor-general report took aim at then-sports minister Bridget McKenzie's handling of the grants.
The government spent $100 million on grants for the Community Sport Infrastructure Program in the lead up to the 2019 election. Hundreds of grants were recommended for funding by Sports Australia but were rejected by the minister.
It was claimed McKenzie ignored Sports Australia advice and instead directed money into projects in marginal electorates and target seats.
During an appearance at National Press Club this week Morrison was asked: “Can you say categorically your office has nothing to do with this, no involvement in the construction of this rort?”
He responded: “the minister was the one making the decisions on those grants programs".
“All we did was provide information based on the representations made to us.”
However, it can be revealed that the PM’s office had direct input.
An email obtained by 10 News First suggests the PM's office had the grants list and they were cross-checking it with other funding programs before instructing McKenzie's office what changes needed to be made.
An email sent to Sports Australia from McKenzie's senior adviser reads:
"We have just been advised by the PM's office that there have been some projects on the list funded under another grants program. We have been asked to make a slight adjustment."
It goes on to list not the affect applicants, but the affected electorates.
The listed electorates included Liberal MP Keith Pitt's seat of Hinkler in Queensland, National Darren Chester's seat of Gippsland in Victoria and independent Andrew Wilkie’s Denison in Tasmania.
The email did not mention specific projects.
"Neither the Prime Minister nor his office directed the Minister to fund a specific project," a spokesperson for Morrison told 10 News First on Friday.
The directive from the PM’s office to avoid double funding could be completely above board, however, the email does show Morrison’s office had more involvement than previously indicated.
Shadow health minister Chris Bowen said the handling of the grants was “pure and simple political corruption of a process”.
“If the government thinks they can arrogantly smirk their way through it and it will go away I’m afraid they are sadly mistaken.”
Meanwhile, McKenzie still faces calls to resign over the issue.