De Brenni defends changes to sports grants
Sports Minister Mick de Brenni has hit back at accusations of pork-barrelling surrounding the reallocation of sports grants, saying he had made it "more fair".
A damning review of Queensland grants by the Auditor-General, sparked by the infamous federal sports rorts, found Mr de Brenni altered 33 grants in two sports programs and hand-picked all 46 applications in a third, without recording any of his reasoning.
Mr de Brenni this morning told ABC radio that his reallocation of sports had created an "even spread" across the state, despite his actions increasing funding to clubs in Labor seats.
He claimed politics had "nothing to do with (his intervention)", and that he simply did what "the community would expect me to do".
"I had to ensure that when we're investing taxpayers' money that we deliver it in a way that the community would expect me to do," he told ABC radio.
"We wanted to make sure that more clubs across more parts of Queensland were successful."
"It was my authority and my responsibility to ensure that the outcomes were aligned to the policy intent and the program guidelines."
"That's what I did."
As a result of Mr de Brenni's intervention, grants in ALP electorates increased from 44 to 68 per cent while grants in LNP electorates decreased from 43 to 28 per cent.
Asked if he saw a problem with the change, Mr de Brenni said:
"No, I don't."
Instead, he claimed that by awarding non-recommended grants and knocking back others he had "made it more fair" and created an "even spread of sports grants across the state".
Mr de Brenni maintained his stance that the initial advice from his department "was simply wrong" and failed to recommend clubs that were eligible for the grants.
Speaking later on 4BC, Mr de Brenni said he believed the "failure to keep proper records" was "pretty insignificant".
"Our economy is open, jobs are growing, we've got infrastructure going ahead," he said.
"The department's failure to keep proper records, I think, is pretty insignificant in the scheme of things."
He said "any lacklustre performance in terms of record keeping" had since been improved.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk this morning said Mr de Brenni would stay in his job.
The Premier said the auditor-general's report made a number of recommendations which her Government has accepted.
"What was very clear here is that my understanding is the report found that it was mostly consistent across the major parties," she said.
"I think there was a differentiation of around 1 per cent.
"When the AG makes recommendations my government will implement them and that's exactly what I promise to do."
She said more record keeping would happen in the future and said he would stay on.
Greens MP Michael Berkman - who yesterday called on the government to fund club sport registration for Queensland children - weighed in on the controversy, saying his "heart goes out to those clubs that have missed out".
"It's clear that Minister de Brenni has got some pretty serious questions to answer," Mr Berkman told ABC radio.
"I just feel for those clubs that have missed out on the grant funding that they need because of his intervention."
"These clubs, they are so integral for the fabric of our community."
Did your club miss out on a grant? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally published as De Brenni defends changes to sports grants