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By November 3, 2020May 11th, 2021Sport

Scott Morrison’s Sports Rorts scheme and cover-up has been blasted by the former Auditor-General of New South Wales, as snubbed clubs and councils describe the damage done to communities and trust in government.

Former NSW Auditor-General Tony Harris told the Senate Select Committee on Administration of Sports Grants yesterday that Scott Morrison’s attempts to avoid scrutiny over Sports Rorts were part of a pattern of behaviour.

“There appears to be, by design not by accident, a drift towards reducing the scrutiny of government,” he said.

Mr Harris said Scott Morrison’s defence – that his office did nothing except pass on representations – was “palpable nonsense given the evidence that this committee and the auditor general has uncovered” and said “his attempt to mislead the electorate is a bit disturbing”.

“If the [Sport] Minister fell on the basis of the government’s failure to administer this program properly then the Prime Minister’s involvement would mean that the Prime Minister and / or his office were involved in a maladministration, at least. The whole thing is a very significant indicator that things are very poor in the state of government,” Mr Harris said.

The Senate inquiry into the rorted Community Sport Infrastructure Grants program also heard from clubs and councils that said the saga had ongoing negative impacts for their members and communities and had diminished their trust in the government.

East Arnhem Regional Council said it was disappointed its project did not receive a grant despite being rated 80.5 out of 100 by Sport Australia.

“It was aimed at youth and we have an increasing youth demographic through our communities. With the lack of infrastructure within remote indigenous communities we thought that would align with health improvements, healthy lifestyle.”

Woodville West Torrens Football Club wanted to provide change rooms for its growing numbers of female players, something the government said was a key goal of the grants program.

“We have a lot of juniors and we have to have curtains hung across a room to be able to have girls change behind curtains.

When you hear the Prime Minister and the Sports Minister at the time promoting that it’s about engaging women in sports … to then find out that money is not awarded to organisations that are trying to engage with their communities and create healthy environments, that’s very disheartening.”

The whole country knows Sports Rorts was wrong – why is so hard for Scott Morrison to admit it, say sorry and make right by funding the projects Sport Australia recommended for grants?