SPORT RORTS: How a Coffs club was struck out on funding
THE president of a major Coffs Harbour sporting association has described his shock and disappointment at missing out on a modest grant under the now infamous Community Sports Infrastructure program.
The 'sports rorts' scandal was sparked after the auditor-general released a report into deputy Nationals leader Bridget McKenzie's administration of the program.
It's been revealed that even Sport Australia, the agency charged with administering the scandal-plagued grant scheme, warned the Morrison Government that its interference in the $100 million program was compromising its independence.
As the scandal escalates local clubs who missed out have become increasingly disillusioned with the process.
Ben McCall is the president of the Coffs Harbour Baseball Association which takes in four separate clubs across the region.
The association applied for a relatively modest $5,000 in April last year for batting cages at their Stadium Drive pitch.
"The application took a long time to put together. We were pretty upset being a small sporting association in a regional area like Coffs and so were our members when they found out," Mr McCall explained.
The association has roughly 120 members from juniors through to seniors.
"We were going to use the funds to improve our training facilities locally so the whole baseball community could use them.
"When the news broke it was a bit of a shock as our members were looking forward to this development as they have been waiting a while for better training facilities and there is no facility for us to train or practice like this in Coffs."
Mr McCall says baseball is growing in popularity and facilities need to keep up with that.
"Just recently the Australian Baseball Team moved up the ranks to fifth in the world and we should be getting some sort of funding - big or small - to support the growth of the sport."
While their modest request of $5,000 was denied other local groups including Coffs Harbour City Council received up to $400,000 under the same scheme last year.
Council received $400,000 to update ageing roof and court infrastructure at Sportz Central while Hockey Coffs Coast Inc was awarded $200,000 to install a kiosk and meeting rooms.
Cowper MP Pat Conaghan, who was elected for The Nationals last year following Luke Hartsuyker's retirement, continues to support his deputy leader.
"The way the program was administered is now the subject of an investigation after the Prime Minister referred the matter to the secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet on Friday.
"I will continue my support of Bridget McKenzie as Deputy Leader of the National Party while the investigation is undertaken. In Australia, people are always afforded the presumption of being innocent until proven guilty, and this is the right I am affording my colleague."