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Morrison defends Nationals leader over sports grants furore

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

The prime minister is defending Bridget McKenzie as calls grow for the deputy leader at the centre of the $100 million sports grant furore to step down.

Scott Morrison has defended embattled deputy Nationals leader Bridget McKenzie for her role in allocating $100 million in community sports grants.

A report by the auditor-general found while Senator McKenzie was sports minister she awarded most of the grants to seats being targeted by the coalition during the election last year.

Labor has called for Ms McKenzie to resign and pointed to their former sports minister Ros Kelly who stepped down from the ministry and then parliament in 1995 following a similar affair.

But Senator McKenzie is refusing to apologise and has the support of the prime minister who said no rules were broken despite allegations of 'pork barrelling' - funding sports clubs in marginal seats rather than on merit.

"What I'm doing is taking the auditor-general's report seriously and clarifying the legal issues that were raised," Mr Morrison told Today.

"Every project that was funded was eligible for funding. All the rules of the program were followed. The auditor-general found that - that's different to what happened in the Ros Kelly affair.

"These projects were projects supporting local communities so girls didn't have to get changed behind the shed or in their car to go play sport.

"It delivered funding supporting locally fund-raised initiatives in local communities, councils, to make local sports infrastructure better for communities."

Leading law firm Slater and Gordon are investigating a class action, arguing tens of millions of dollars in grants were misappropriated.

Source: 9News

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