Statement on Community Sport Infrastructure grants
The following is a statement from the Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie regarding the controversy surrounding the awarding of Community Sports Infrastructure Grants.
“The clubs in my electorate that missed out on Community Sports Infrastructure grant funding despite high scores for eligibility would be justifiably angry.
“This scheme was advertised as a competitive grant round where clubs (the vast majority run by volunteers) put in thousands of hours of work putting in applications in the mistaken belief they would be assessed on merit.
“Having written letters of support and advocated for a number of the clubs for this grant scheme and for other sources of funding, I empathise with that anger and will be continuing my advocacy for them into the future.
“It needs to be stressed that this funding source was a competitive grant scheme, not an election promise made at the discretion of a Party and secured with a post-election win.
“In the case of Cherry Gardens Ironbank Recreation Ground, I took the extra step of writing separately to the then Sports Minister Senator Bridget McKenzie to highlight their need in the anticipation that their project might become an election promise in 2019.
“Frankly I am not surprised that so many of the highly ranked applications came from my electorate, including those now in my electorate following the electoral redistribution.
“Many of the sporting facilities in my region are community-owned, not council-owned, so for decades they have they struggled to source funding to upgrade their infrastructure.
“Our community was also a safe seat for many decades and didn’t attract as many ‘election promises’ as other electorates.
“It’s one of the reasons I stood as a candidate back in 2016. I wanted Mayo to matter.
“But I also recognised the real backlog of infrastructure upgrades and during my 2016 campaign, I promised hold grant workshops to build the capacity in my community to submit successful grant applications.
“Ironically, I am now onto my second round of workshops. Yesterday we had 130 at our Port Elliot workshop and our workshops in Stirling and McLaren are practically booked out.
“It’s proof that so many organisations want to build their skills to increase their chances of funding.
“What concerns me is that after the Senate Inquiry into the sports scheme, governments from all sides will pull back from sporting infrastructure.
“That would be a tremendous shame because this funding is so desperately needed.
“Election promises with future funding for marginal seats is one thing, competitive grant schemes should be just that - merit-based and transparent.”
Below: A scanned copy of the letter sent to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.