Senator Bridget McKenzie will soon face tough questions on her and the Prime Minister's involvement in granting sports funding to marginal electorates in the lead up to the 2019 federal election.
A Senate committee is expected to ask the Nationals senator to provide further details on discussions she had with the Prime Minister's office involving the administration of grants during her first appearance before the committee next Friday.
The committee, which is scrutinising the questionable process dubbed 'sports rorts', has outlined it intends to ask the senator to clarify information not contained in her April 2020 submission.
Along with asking further details about the senator's written submission, the committee will also ask about her discussions and correspondence with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his office.
The Australian National Audit Office told the committee in early 2020 that 136 emails were exchanged between their offices with 15 of them containing colour-coded spreadsheets alleged to indicate funding priorities based on how marginal the electorate was.
In a later hearing, the audit office also revealed Mr Morrison and Senator McKenzie had met to discuss increasing the size of the Community Sport Infrastructure Grants program from $30 million to $100 million and had compared the number of grant applications in marginal and targeted seats. Committee senators will ask Senator McKenzie to expand on the nature of these meetings.
The committee will also ask the senator of changes made to the third round funding list after she had signed off on it.
Senator McKenzie was first asked to appear before the committee in mid-2020 but insisted all she had to offer was contained within her submission.
In a letter to the committee in January 2020, Senator McKenzie agreed to appear before the committee for an hour on February 12, 2020, after it delivered a Senate order requiring her attendance.
The senator insisted on being given more information on what the committee planned to ask her that hadn't already been addressed in the submission, calling it an otherwise "cheap political stunt".
"I am yet to receive a detailed statement of matters to be dealt with during my appearance that I haven't already addressed in my submission nor a 'transcript of relevant evidence already taken' by the committee that would justify my need to attend for any other reason than a cheap political stunt," Senator McKenzie wrote in the letter.
She slammed suggestions she had declined prior requests to appear before the inquiry and said the Senate's order was "unprecedented".
"With regard to my attendance to an inquiry hearing, at no time have I 'declined to' appear before the committee," she wrote.
"Nonetheless the committee has sought to take the unprecedented action through the Senate order of 9 December, to direct a fellow senator to appear."
The report by the Auditor-General's office was delivered in January 2020 and found the then-sports minister overlooked sports grants applications found worthy by government agency Sport Australia while her office ran its own assessment process favouring marginal electorates.
The Auditor-General's office found at least 43 per cent of the grants were ineligible by the time they were funded.
The Morrison government was heavily criticised by opposition and crossbenchers for approving the sports grants in marginal seats ahead of the 2019 federal election and called for Senator McKenzie's resignation.
The senator resigned as minister the following month after it surfaced she had failed to disclose a membership she had with a gun club that received nearly $36,000 from the fund.
The committee is expected to deliver its findings next month.
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