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By July 22, 2020May 11th, 2021Sport

The Morrison Government left women and girls “changing in cars or out the back of the sheds”. Now, they’re keeping taxpayer-funded women’s sports coverage behind a pay wall.

Ministers Fletcher and Colbeck today announced a further $10 million hand-out to Fox Sports, purportedly to “support of coverage of women’s, niche and other under-represented sports”.

Despite already having handed over $30 million to Fox Sports over the past four years, ostensibly for the same purpose, the reality is that the Department of Communications has been unable to state the most basic information such as how many women’s sport broadcast hours the funding has actually delivered.

Today’s announcement raised taxpayer funding of Fox Sports to $40 million over six years, but provided no further transparency about these hand-outs, about which serious questions remain:

  • Who was eligible for the grant, who approved the grant and when will the grant process and details be available on the Grant Connect website?
  • Which sports will be supported through the grant over the next two years, and will the Department be able to measure exactly how many hours of women’s, niche and under-represented sports taxpayers get in return for their $10 million?
  • Was the Department of Communications, Australian Sports Commission, Office for Sport or Women Sport Australia consulted on this decision?

Australia’s sportswomen deserve better. Young girls can’t be what they can’t see.

At a time when Australia is in recession, many households are facing unemployment and money is tight, $10 million would go a long way to supporting sports coverage to which all Australians can see for free.

It would also go a long way to delivering many of the female change room projects recommended by Sport Australia but rejected by the Morrison Government under its now infamous Sports Rorts scandal.

Amazingly, this latest hand out to Fox Sports was delivered on the same day that a Senate committee heard the Department of Infrastructure never even started preparing guidelines for the $150 million so-called Female Facilities and Water Safety Stream.

Scott Morrison and Bridget McKenzie said that funding was all about building “more female change room facilities at sports grounds” so that women and girls wouldn’t have to “get changed behind towels on the side of fields or in cars”.

Instead, they spent more than $120 million on swimming pools in Coalition-held seats, including more than $100 million in marginal Coalition-held electorates.

Despite spending more than $250 million pre-election on community sports infrastructure, the Morrison Government failed to fund hundreds of worthy women’s sports projects because it prioritised marginal seats over merit.

Today’s announcement just proves this government will always put political gain before real support for women and girls in sport.