The ACT managed to win only 13 of the 684 sports grants awarded by the Federal Government program criticised by the Auditor-General, and which has the Labor Opposition calling for the head of Nationals Deputy Leader and former Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie.
The Auditor-General’s report on the Community Sport Infrastructure program found that it was biased towards marginal electorates held by the Coalition and those it had targeted as winnable, with the Minister’s office running a parallel assessment process that over-ruled original decisions by Sport Australia.
It found the awarding of grants was not informed by an appropriate assessment process and sound advice, and that successful applications were not necessarily those with the most merit.
The entire program was worth $100 million, with only $1.5 million going to the ACT.
While the ACT, with its solid Labor vote, is hardly considered marginal, several of the grants were announced by Liberal Senator Zed Seselja during the election campaign in which he was the target of strong, if overly optimistic, challenges from the Greens and an independent.
The biggest grant went to the Canberra Netball Association in Lyneham, which received $454,000 in Round 2 to upgrade ageing facilities, including change rooms and toilets. Arawang Netball Association received $20,000 in Round 2.
But Woden Valley Gymnastics was not far behind, winning two separate grants of $200,000 each in Round 1 and Round 3 to extend its gymnasium at the former Holder High School site which it leases from the ACT Government. The sport, in general, was the big winner with South Canberra Gymnastics Club in Wanniassa being awarded $140,000.
As in other electorates, new women’s sport was a major beneficiary with the Brumbies winning $199,000 to install women’s changing and bathroom facilities at their training ground at the University of Canberra.
The University of Canberra Union received $215,000 so five ‘3 on 3’ basketball courts could be installed at the Bruce campus.
The Molonglo Juggernauts Australian Rules Football Club, of which Senator Seselja was the 2014 club patron, won $50,000 to upgrade its Stirling Oval home, including an electronic scoreboard, undercover seating, and bathroom facilities with access for people with a disability.
Pegasus Riding for the Disabled at Holt received $48,000 to upgrade the safety and accessibility of its facilities.
Canberra BMX Club at Melba won $23,000, Reid and Southlands Tennis Clubs each received $10,500 and the Canberra Dragon Boat Association was awarded $2,840.