‘Completely untenable’: Crossbench turns on Minister
PRESSURE is building on embattled deputy Nationals leader Bridget McKenzie to step down, as Senate crossbenchers confirm they will unanimously back a Senate inquiry into the sports grants scandal.
Centre Alliance, One Nation and the Greens have now all confirmed they will back the inquiry, giving Labor the numbers for it to go ahead.
Senator Jacqui Lambie also backs the inquiry and personally texted the Minister telling her to resign.
Centre Alliance's Rebekah Sharkie said Senator McKenzie should be made to explain herself before the probe.
"We would naturally like to hear from Senator McKenzie with regards to the decision making," Ms Sharkie said.
Nationals privately fear the Minister will go if the inquiry goes ahead, keeping the scandal in the public's eye. But senior nationals minister David Littleproud backed in his boss, saying she was doing "a damn good job".
The furore follows a damning report from the auditor-general who found more than 60 per cent of sport clubs to receive grants under a $100 million program run by Senator McKenzie were marginal seats targeted by the Coalition.
Labor is yet to confirm if it will move for the inquiry, but it is considered highly likely.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese yesterday said Senator McKenzie's position was "completely untenable".
"There was no legal authority evident for the minister to be the approver," he said.
"It's clear the Prime Minister was very involved in this."
Mr Morrison was asked about his involvement earlier in the week, but said "the Minister was the one making the decisions on those grants programs".
Mr Littleproud said he supported Senator McKenzie's handling of the grants program.
"Every time a dollar is spent in regional Australia, everyone says it's pork barrelling," he said.
It is despite the audit finding the grants were more likely to go towards marginal seats targeted by the Coalition at the election.
Grants were awarded to city electorates, including Moreton, Brisbane, Griffith, Lilley and Ryan.
Of the $15 million in grants Queensland sporting clubs received, almost $10 million went to marginal seats, analysis by The Courier-Mail found.