Thread – Dream Me Up Scotty
Jan 24th 2020
A timeline of the #sportsrorts scandal.
One where we (@RonniSalt (With @jommy_tee)) try to cut through the mystery and the Public-Servant-Speak to get to the heart of the matter: that this was a collusion dreamed up at the very top levels of the Liberal party.
It was a brilliant scheme.
And like most brilliant schemes, it was a simple one.
Where it went wrong was where shady schemes like this always do – they tried to milk too much of a good thing.
We begin in Aug/Sept 2018 – but we could probably begin many years before that with the slow erosion of common values by this government.
In early Sept 2018, a very successful Liberal party campaign operative by the name of Jonathan Hawkes arrived in Bridget McKenzie’s office.
According to his extensive CV, this is the first time Mr Hawkes has involved himself with a fed National Party politician.
And Mr Hawkes arrives from being a highly paid director of public affairs & a seasoned election campaigner, to being Senator McKenzie’s – “media advisor”
Mr Hawke’s arrival in McKenzie’s office happily coincides with the launch of the Community Sport Infrastructure Grants program
Which is lucky because Mr Hawkes, with his extensive networks into the Liberal Party itself & all their campaign strategists – will be able to help out
The CSIG program launched in August 2018.
The Sports Australia website claims it was designed to “support greater community participation in sport”.
And it did indeed set out to fulfil that brief.
But – it was also designed for something else.
Governments pork barrel all the time. They all do it, trying to curry favour with funding in strategic places.
However by 2018, the electorate had become bored with large scale announcements – hospitals, schools, roads, bridges.
It had all been done to death.
And the added problem with big announcements is that they attract bigger media outlets.
Experienced, hard core political journalists tend to cover them for major newspapers.
Let’s be honest, how many times has the Bellarine Times raced to cover a major airport rebuild?
But all the polling was showing an electorate that had tuned out of politics.
How could the Lib Nat government curry favour with ordinary suburban and small town Australians?
How could they butter up the electorate leading up to the next federal election?
The answer lay in talking to the grass roots.
Who wanted to hear about a freeway by-pass?
Why not hit the grass roots with something local and personal? Why not curry favour down on the ground?
Why not pork barrel local sports clubs?
Everybody somewhere had a connection to a sports club or knew somebody who did. And it connected directly – right where they lived.
The biggest attraction of this scheme was that it involved mainly small & local media.
Every little town & suburb in Australia would cover it.
The advantage of that was that big, experienced political journalists wouldn’t really pay it too much attention.
After all, why would the razor sharp Katherine Murphy pay attention to a small cheque to Surf Coast Shire Council?
The fix was on.
The CSIG was well promoted.
It had guidelines for applying & more importantly, it had tight *deadlines* for applying.
It opened on Aug 4 2018.
The cut off time was Sept 14 2018, so community sports groups had 6 weeks to research, write, refine & apply for their money.
What many of them did not know was that all their hard work would be for nothing.
From the Auditor General’s investigation into the whole affair, we can conclude that ructions were there from the beginning between Sports Australia & people within Senator McKenzie’s office.
It appears, although Sports Australia followed their own well developed criteria, forces inside Senator McKenzie’s office had their own ideas about where all these grass roots grants were to be distributed.
As the report shows – they weren’t giving anyone their reasons either.
At the same time debates raged inside Senator McKenzie’s office, Lib politicians were making noises to Andrew Hirst the Liberal Party president, about the polling in their seats.
If you google who had strong competition or slim margins in the 2019 election – that would be them.
Media reports indicate Andrew Hirst informed the disgruntled politicians at the time that the matter was in hand.
Who knows if Kathy Ganley was one of them, because she certainly wasn’t an MP on Dec 8 2018 when she made this social media post.
In it, Ms Ganley talks about how fabulous Bridget McKenzie’s visit has been & tells people to watch this space, particularly in relation to sporting clubs.
What was Ms Ganley so very sure of regarding sporting clubs?
The successful CSIG applicants were yet to be announced.
And yet here we are.
Like magic, 7 days after that mysterious post & only 3 days after the successful CSIG applicants were officially announced, here is the CLP candidate with a professionally produced flyer announcing $500K for her local sporting club.