News National Sports grants denied to worthy projects
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Sports grants denied to worthy projects

There were 18 applications for ‘book a court’ tennis projects, ranging in grant value from $5960 to $146,720, with four knocked back.
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The auditor-general identified a number of problems with a federal sports grants program criticised for pork-barrelling ahead of the 2019 election.

Australian National Audit Office report reveals who missed out:

  • A skating venue (whose application rated 98 out of 100), having sought $44,909 to redevelop existing male and female toilets into a unisex accessible toilet, unisex cubicles and shower.
  • A recreation ground (whose application was rated 94 out of 100) was knocked back, seeking $480,621 to build new change room facilities for all sporting clubs that use the grounds, suitable for players, home and away teams and umpires, and suitable for all genders.
  • 18 applications were lodged across four states and the ACT for “book a court” tennis projects, ranging in grant value from $5960 to $146,720. Four were knocked back even though they were virtually identical.
  • One council submitted four applications for improved lighting at different sporting facilities. The applications that scored 97 and 76 (the latter was the application seeking the largest amount of funding) were awarded funding in the second and third rounds respectively, but the applications that scored 80 and 67 were unsuccessful.
  • Seven applications that achieved an overall assessment score of 90 or above and met sub-criteria to at least a “satisfactory” level were rejected, with no clear reasons given as to why.
  • 125 applications that scored 80 or more out of 100 were not approved for funding.
  •  Nine of the 10 electorates that received the least funding were held by Labor.
  • Coalition-held marginal electorates received $28 million of the grant funding that was awarded, nine per cent above the $25.8 million they would have received had funding been awarded on the basis of Sport Australia’s merit assessments.
  • The 17 electorates held by Labor, minor parties or independents that were being “targeted” by the coalition were more successful than they would have been if funding had been awarded on the basis of assessed merit.
  • After the announcement of further funding in the mid-year budget update in December 2018, the office of the independent MP for Mayo was told no new applications were being received, even though they were.