Judgement day is coming for Sports Rorts, other Coalition grants schemes

by Vince O'Grady | Oct 17, 2022 | Government, Latest Posts

“Sports Rorts” and assorted grants schemes manipulated for political gains by the former Coalition government are not merely corrupt but probably illegal too, writes Vince O’Grady. O’Grady found the political bias persisted not only in Sports allocations but throughout the more than $7bn in grants programs. And that is before even analysing the almost half a trillion in government contracts since 2013.

We all know about the colour coded spreadsheets. They were leaked to the ABC following the damming report on the Sports infrastructure scheme. But that is where the majority of the media left it.

There is much, much more.

The Australian National Audit office (ANAO) report into the Community Sports infrastructure Program was deemed necessary by that body following a referral from Mark Dreyfus, the shadow Attorney General.  

Sport Australia is an independent government body created under the Australian Sports Commission Act 1989. It doesn’t fall under the grants rules and guidelines which Commonwealth departments must follow, but that doesn’t mean that it can give out money as it sees fit.

It is still governed by a set of rules which must be followed so that the money is well spent.

The ANAO report highlighted many of these requirements. They were explored further by a Senate Select committee on Administration of Sports grants.

Are they even legal?

For example, are they legal?

Submissions (14 and 16) from legal experts from the Universities of Melbourne and Sydney suggest not. 

They question whether the Government had the constitutional power to actually award Sporting Infrastructure grants, Whether the Minister had the power under the Act to approve these grants and whether the laws covering administration of public monies had been adhered to. I also questioned whether or not a criminal act (forgery of a Commonwealth document) had been committed by changing the grants awarded (on April 11, 2019) after the minister had signed off on them on April 4, 2019, under the same signature.

Then of course there is the paper trail between the Prime Minister’s department and the Minister’s office asking for certain changes which were well outside of the grants guidelines and the authority of approval. Much of this has not been canvassed in the press. 

Another parliamentary committee, the Joint Committee on Accounts and Audit (JCPAA) also looked at the sports infrastructure grants and the ANAO report. Its report was No 848 where Sports infrastructure Grants were again scrutinised.

We told you so: Coalition pinged again over regional grants

The JCPAA is reviewing report 848 as part of its latest inquiry into government grants Administration. They have expanded it to include several other seriously funded grant programs under the coalition including the “Building The Better Regions Fund” and the “Manufacturing Grant Scheme”.

Submissions are now being accepted.

Analysing grants schemes with a small team for the past two and a half years I thought I would put in a submission.

My submission covers the following areas.

  • An explanation of the enormity of the Coalition grants schemes. In excess of $90 billion and 150,000 grants.
  • Are grants the best way to deliver Government policy?
  • Are the Guidelines being followed such that the allocations are fair and balanced?
  • Are grants audited from approval to implementation?
  • A Table which shows the grant progress, the applicable legal requirements and whether the audit requirements are adequate or not.
  • A spreadsheet summary analysis showing the 17 Grant schemes analysed worth $7.49 billion as well as specialised segments such as Golf, Tennis and Sailing allocations.

One of the major problems with these grant schemes is the legal basis for the allocation of taxpayer money.

By this I mean the budget allocation and the passing of that allocation in the budget appropriation bills. A government cannot spend money legally unless it has been allocated and passed in a budget appropriation bill. The greatest example of this was the Whitlam government and the withholding of supply or threat of same by the Liberals and Nationals.

Without money an Australian government cannot govern. In these grant cases, it appears that in at least two grant schemes (Community Development grants and Female facilities and Water Safety Stream), money was allocated when it was not appropriated.

Last week my submission was accepted and is now published on the JCPAA website. It’s comprehensive and detailed (66 pages long) and I invite you to download and read it.

Now that the National Anti Corruption Commission bill (NACC) is before the Parliament the pork is about to be roasted. 

You ain’t seen nothing yet.

Prime Minister’s department ordered to come clean on Sports Rorts cover-up

Vince O'Grady is a politics and media critic who analyses government grants schemes. His work can be found on Twitter @vogrady2132 and on his website https://www.thevogfiles.com/

Don't pay so you can read it.

Pay so everyone can.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This