‘They all stink’: Questions asked about NSW sports grants
It was a pre-election cash-splash that saw almost $100 million handed out for regional community sporting projects across the state.
However, figures released by the NSW Office of Sport last week show much of the bonanza went to Coalition seats, with one handed out weeks before expressions of interests had closed.
In a carve-up that Labor has described as questionable, just two of 21 the Regional Sports Infrastructure Fund grants handed out in 2018 distribution went to Labor and independent electorates.
The grant allocation - including one being given out in the marginal seat of Lismore before the expressions of interests closed - has led to Labor demanding an immediate review.
The department figures showed the state government announced a $4.9 million grant for upgrades to the Albert Park baseball complex in Lismore on February 2.
According to state opposition sport and recreation spokeswoman Lynda Voltz, expressions of interests for community groups to apply did not close in March.
Eight months later, Lismore benefited again when the government announced it would spend $4.5 million on a sports hub to attract international competitions.
On the eve of the Wagga Wagga by-election, it also announced a $6.9 million major bike park facility.
Ms Voltz, who is writing to the NSW Auditor General for the grant allocations to be examined, said the only non-National seats that had benefited were Maitland, held by Labor, and Lake Macquarie, held by independent MP Greg Piper.
While 13 Coalition seats scored 19 grants, seven regional Labor seats missed out.
"They all stink. It is a complete abuse of the process. There is no way you can hand out grants and seven regional seats that happen to be held by Labor miss out," she said.
A spokesman for Nationals leader John Barilaro rejected claims the Lismore grant was handed out before an expressions of interest deadline, declaring the scheme had been open to applications at any time.
He said the project had the support of 2016 Labor candidate Janelle Saffin.