Even with the Covid-19 crisis understandably dominating our thoughts, the media and the government’s response, the ‘Sports Rorts’ scandal just won’t go away, and with good reason.
The lack of professionalism and integrity beggars belief, not to mention plain old failure to follow the rules. We now learn the then Sports Minister approved six grants despite receiving no application forms for those grants, and five applications were approved for funding despite falling well short of the selection criteria.
Many of us in the community and not-for-profit sector spend a lot of time writing grant applications for scarce funding. We follow the rules, we provide extensive evidence of our governance systems, details on how the money will be spent and who will benefit. I can understand just how infuriating it must be for the members of those sports clubs who did their best to follow the correct procedure – only to find the system appears rigged and decisions possibly politically motivated in the leadup to the last election. It’s not surprising trust in government is low.
Sports Australia should have been allowed to do its job, to make these decisions following fair, transparent and objective protocols. The Minister should not have been involved, and no Minister should be able to meddle with the distribution of public funds in a way that might unfairly benefit themselves or their parties.
This whole saga demonstrates again why we need a federal anti-corruption watchdog. It’s clear we need a stronger system for upholding political integrity.