The sports grants hearing has revealed Bridget McKenzie’s office prepared “talking points” for a meeting with the prime minister that set out how many marginal and target seats could be funded if the community sports infrastructure grant program was expanded from $30m to $100m.

The Australian National Audit Office’s scathing report on the program concluded that McKenzie’s office ran a parallel assessment process, finding her office recorded on 20 November 2018 that it had identified 705 projects in marginal and targeted seats. Some 109 more projects in marginal and target seats could be funded if the program were expanded.

It said McKenzie’s office had “‘spoken directly to other members and duty-senators and some cross-bench on key priorities – with a priority on marginal and target seats”.

The Greens senator Janet Rice asked: What document was the source of that quote?

The ANAO executive director of the performance audit services group, Brian Boyd, told the inquiry that in October 2018 McKenzie wrote to the prime minister proposing to expand the program, then worth $30m.

On 16 November, McKenzie’s office sent the prime minister’s office a spreadsheet of what a “$100m project might look like”, he said, followed by one setting out what a $30m program would look like on 19 November.

On the afternoon of 19 November, McKenzie, her chief of staff and senior adviser met to prepare for a meeting with the prime minister.

McKenzie’s senior adviser then prepared a document titled “TPs for meeting with PM” (the ANAO understood it was talking points for a meeting with the prime minister) – a four-page document setting out what could be achieved if the program was expanded from $30m to $100m.

That meeting, scheduled for 20 November, went ahead on 28 November, and the program was later expanded to $100m.

ANAO officials say they established the talking points were printed – but they can’t speculate whether they were used.

The Guardian

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