Fear is growing within the National party that pressure will continue to build on Bridget McKenzie as Scott Morrison refuses to reveal his office's involvement.
Fear is growing within the National party that pressure will continue to build on Bridget McKenzie as Scott Morrison refuses to reveal his office's involvement.

PM insists no ‘absolute’ proof in sports grant scandal

PRIME Minister Scott Morrison is standing by embattled minister Bridget McKenzie, insisting there was no "absolute" proof she was pork barrelling.

It is despite a growing fear within the Nationals that pressure will continue to build on Senator McKenzie until she is forced out.

Mr Morrison's comments all but dismiss a damning report from the auditor general who found more than 60 per cent of sport clubs to receive grants under a $100 million program run by Senator McKenzie were marginal seats targeted by the Coalition.

Minister Bridget McKenzie is under continued pressure over alleged pork barrelling in a sports grant program. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch
Minister Bridget McKenzie is under continued pressure over alleged pork barrelling in a sports grant program. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch

He announced Attorney-General Christian Porter would look into "legal issues" raised by the report.

But Mr Morrison said it was difficult to claim that more worthy projects missed out on funding because "these things are hard to judge between".

"It's hard to say, to draw that absolute conclusion when the minister intervened to make sure more Labor seats got funding," he said.

"The other thing the Auditor-General found was there was not one project that was funded that was ineligible."

It is despite the independent audit finding that there was a secret set of criteria used by the Minister and merit-based criteria was overlooked at times.

Mr Morrison also dismissed comparisons with Labor's Ros Kelly, who lost her job to a similar scandal in the 90s, saying she awarded funding to ineligible programs, while all of the current crop had been found to be eligible.

He did not directly answer questions as to whether his office was involved in the scheme in any way.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is standing by Minister Bridget McKenzie as the sports grant scandal continues. Picture: AAP Image/Marc Tewksbury
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is standing by Minister Bridget McKenzie as the sports grant scandal continues. Picture: AAP Image/Marc Tewksbury

Labor front bencher Brendan O'Connor said it "beggars belief" that Mr Morrison was not aware of how the scheme was being run, "at least to some extent".

The report from the Australian National Audit Office found pork-barrelling in marginal seats the Coalition was targeting and questioned the "legal authority" behind the former sports minister's involvement.

Of the $15 million in grants Queensland sporting clubs received, almost $10 million went to those in marginal seats, analysis by The Courier-Mail found.



Why Gladstone shopfronts are having tropical transformations

Premium Content Why Gladstone shopfronts are having tropical transformations

The Quota Club ladies are busier than ever now life is seemingly back to normal.

Man treated for reported stonefish sting at 1770

Premium Content Man treated for reported stonefish sting at 1770

The man reportedly raised the alarm about the stonefish incident at a nearby...

Man arrested over attempt to ‘avenge’ brother at rural pub

Premium Content Man arrested over attempt to ‘avenge’ brother at rural pub

Ryan McKeough was trying to avenge his brother’s assault.