Attorney-General Christian Porter has defended his Coalition colleague Bridget McKenzie for overriding Sport Australia to give grants to marginal seats, saying he once squashed an attempt from his department to fund a UFO-watching group.
Mr Porter has been tasked with seeking legal advice over whether Senator McKenzie had the authority to make the final call on where money went, in the $100 million Community Sport Infrastructure program.
An audit raised questions about whether the Deputy Nationals leader had the authority to bypass her department and decide which projects were funded.
But Mr Porter said it was "fair and reasonable" for a minister to have the final say.
"It's not unusual for ministers to have final authority on grants, and I think there's a clear distinction between a situation where the department assesses a grant as ineligible or that it shouldn't be given in a circumstance where the minister imposes their own ranking inside an eligibility ranking provided by a department," Mr Porter told radio station 6PR.
Mr Porter said as Social Services Minister, he overrode his department when it "gave money in a community grants to a UFO watching group".
"Quite naturally the media were very critical of that, and I overrode them," Mr Porter said.
Health Minister Greg Hunt also defended Senator McKenzie, saying all of the projects she chose were "fundable and appropriate". He later admitted he had not read the full audit.
"I have seen the executive summary," Mr Hunt told the ABC.