Deputy Leader of the Nationals and Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie is under pressure to resign . Picture Kym Smith
Deputy Leader of the Nationals and Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie is under pressure to resign . Picture Kym Smith

The shock email that exposed McKenzie

Two words in a single email exposed the behaviour of embattled Deputy Nationals Leader Bridget McKenzie, leading to the probe into the sports grants scheme.

It is alleged that the "smoking gun" for the Auditor-General was an email containing the words "targeted" and "marginal" when referring to seats that grants would be dished out to, Sky News reports.

The email was obtained by the Auditor-General and led them to uncover the rorting of the scheme, Sky News claims.

 

Deputy Leader of the Nationals and Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie is under pressure to resign . Picture Kym Smith
Deputy Leader of the Nationals and Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie is under pressure to resign . Picture Kym Smith

Senator McKenzie is facing pressure to resign over the saga which saw the government use a $100 million sports grant program to hand out cash to marginal seats ahead of the 2019 election.

The latest development comes amid a report from the ABC that Sport Australia, the agency charged with administering the sports grant scheme, warned the Morrison Government that its interference was compromising its independence.

Sport Australia was reportedly angry that community sports projects it recommended for federal funding were being ignored in favour of projects in election battleground seats.

The ABC reports that a month before the election was called, Sport Australia wrote to Senator McKenzie outlining its fears.

The minister's defenders are maintaining the grants are all above board but many within the Nationals are gunning for her to be sacked from her deputy leadership position.

Senator McKenzie is facing more criticism for failing to declare a new investment property in the blue-chip inner Melbourne suburb of Middle Park for three months.

Parliamentary practice gives MPs 35 days to update their register of interests after buying a property, but she did not declare the October purchase until January.

Her office has blamed a long settlement period for the delay.

National Party president Larry Anthony today said he was confident Ms McKenzie will survive the sports grants controversy.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison referred Senator McKenzie's handling of the program to his department head Philip Gaetjens to see if ministerial rules were broken.

Bridget McKenzie is the subject of an investigation by the Prime Minister’s department head. Picture Gary Ramage
Bridget McKenzie is the subject of an investigation by the Prime Minister’s department head. Picture Gary Ramage

Mr Anthony said while there may be differences of opinion in the coalition on Senator McKenzie's future, he said people shouldn't read too much into it. "You always get the to-ing and fro-ing in politics," Mr Anthony said.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt presumed Senator McKenzie would still be a cabinet minster before parliament resumes next week, he told the ABC.

Former National Party leader Barnaby Joyce was also confident the minister would survive.

"This will be a rough time in her career, but I bet you she'll see it through," he told the Seven Network.



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