PM Presser
PM Presser

Deputy PM’s son in club which got $144k


A SPORTS club whose treasurer was Nationals leader Michael McCormack's son had three funding applications rejected before it received $145,000 from his deputy Bridget McKenzie.

Meanwhile, the federal government faces a bill of up to $65 million to fund the applications that scored highly in the Sport Australia assessment process but were overlooked by then-sports minister Ms McKenzie - allegedly in favour of some that would help the Coalition win the election.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week vowed to consider funding worthy projects that missed out, while launching a spirited defence of Ms McKenzie.

Michael McCormack and Bridget McKenzie at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: Gary Ramage
Michael McCormack and Bridget McKenzie at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: Gary Ramage

The top 50 applications she overlooked sought $15.4 million, including $1.8 million requested by five NSW applicants. As minister for sport at the time she had the final say on grants.

The 50 scored 83 or more out of 100 against Sport Australia's assessment criteria.

But another 160 achieved 74 or more - enough to get funding had Ms McKenzie not chosen others with lower scores, according to the Auditor-General's office, whose damning report landed Ms McKenzie in hot water.

This implies a total make-good cost of $65 million.

The equal-highest-scoring NSW application that missed out was from South Wagga Wagga Apex Club, which sought $385,000 towards a bike track at Lake Albert.

Another project in Wagga Wagga was funded, with $144,936 going to the Mangoplah Cookardinia United Eastlakes Football and Netball Club, whose treasurer was Mr McCormack's son.

Bridget McKenzie. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
Bridget McKenzie. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

The Telegraph yesterday asked Mr McCormack if he knew the score his son's club's application received. He said he did not.

"To me, it's irrelevant," the Deputy PM said.

The club had applied three times before and had been turned down, he said.

Receiving the grant had ­allowed a "dangerous" netball court to be resurfaced.

"That's as worthy as Wagga Wagga cyclists having another facility," Mr McCormack said.

Neither he nor his son had anything to do with the application. "It was the netball ladies who put the thing forward," he said.

Sport Australia would not reveal the court resurfacing application's score. It said it had not even told clubs what they had scored.

Ms McKenzie's office said it could not comment while an investigation by the secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet was under way.