Newcastle Olympic FC director Kosta Patsan has slammed the Morrison government’s community sport grants scheme as being contaminated with “nonsensical graft and corruption”, the Newcastle Herald reports.
The outrage is in response to the federal government’s controversial $100 million Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program. The government has been accused of allocating funds to sports programs that missed the cut-off date by months.
Mr Patsan appeared on Thursday before a Senate inquiry in Canberra into the so-called sports rorts scandal. The director claims the club’s application met the cut-off date and the program’s criteria. It applied for $500,000 under the program, but missed out.
“We don’t mind if we missed out for very good reasons. What we cannot countenance is … graft and corruption,” Mr Patsan said.
“We are a worthy recipient. We do a lot of good for the community. We got diddled because we’re in a Labor seat and a safe one.”
Application were required to meet a certain criteria, achieving a minimum score of 74 points. Newcastle Olympic scored 76 points.
“The lowest score funded was 39,” ALP Senator Tim Ayres said.
Mr Patsan said the club received a further “kick in the guts” when it realised the government had used images from its application to promote the grants program.
Senator Rice asked Mr Patsan whether he knew the former sport minister Bridget McKenzie had discretion in which grants would be funded.
“If the minister has the discretion to do whatever she likes, you may as well just turn us into another banana republic”, Mr Patsan added.
The club’s $1.3 million plan includes a grandstand and dressing sheds at Darling Street Oval. It had raised $270,000 from volunteers. Newcastle City Council was to match the federal grant. The club said it had been selected as a venue to host training during the 2023 Women’s World Cup.