Qld sports grants changes 'not recorded'

Mick de Brenni's department didn't explain his changes to sports grants, a review says.
Mick de Brenni's department didn't explain his changes to sports grants, a review says.

Labor electorates benefited over Liberal National Party seats from 33 changes made by Queensland Sport Minister Mick de Brenni to the state government's sports grants program.

A Queensland auditor-general's review of the $197 million sports grants program between July 2017 and February 2020 was released on Tuesday.

Auditor-General Brendan Worral found that more than 98 per cent of the 2900 grants were "mostly consistently" distributed across seats held by the major parties and Katter's Australian Party.

However, Mr de Brenni awarded 18 grants and rejected 14 applications related to the female facilities program against the advice of his own department.

The minister also awarded $150,000 to one sporting organisation in a Labor electorate against departmental recommendations.

"While the department summarised the decisions of the minister in a subsequent briefing note, there was no documentation of the reasons for the changes," Mr Worral wrote.

Mr de Brenni's interventions resulted in grants for female facilities program, aimed at building better change rooms and amenities for females, benefiting Labor over LNP electorates, the report says.

The proportion of grants awarded to Labor seats rose from 44 per cent to 68 per cent, while those for LNP seats fell from 43 per cent to 28 per cent.

Mr de Brenni insists his interventions were not political and made because his department had "got it wrong".

He said his changes helped ensure the government's intention of distributing funds fairly between large and small sporting clubs and different sports codes.

"I wanted to ensure that clubs that rely on mum-and-dad volunteers raising funds for the sausage sizzle got just as much of a look into support from our government as did those big clubs that relied heavily on pokies for funding," Mr de Brenni said.

"So it's about making it fair and ensuring all Queenslanders get a shot."

Mr Worrall wrote that Mr de Brenni's 33 changes represented only one per cent of 2900 grants awarded but the department failed to explain his actions as required.

"In those instances where decisions have been made by the minister that were not based on the department's recommendations, the department did not produce adequate records relating to the awarding of grants," the report says.

"The department has not met the Queensland government requirements for record-keeping of decision-making in its interactions with the minister."

The auditor-general noted the program was changed in February 2020 to ensure the Housing and Public Works director-general approved the sports grants.

That was just weeks after the Australian National Audit Office released a damning report into the federal Coalition government's sports rorts saga.

Opposition sports spokesman John Paul Langbroek said Mr de Brenni should the sacked over the affair.

"The Palaszczuk government has ripped money off 14 community sport clubs to pork-barrel Labor seats," he said.

"(Premier) Annastacia Palaszczuk needs to show some leadership and sack him."

Australian Associated Press