Australian minister stands down over sports grant scandal
CANBERRA, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- Australian senator Bridget McKenzie resigned on Sunday as minister for agriculture and deputy leader of The Nationals in the wake of sports grant scandal.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the decision at a press conference on Sunday afternoon.
It came after an investigation ordered by Morrison concluded that the then-sports minister breached Ministerial Standards by failing to disclose her membership of a shooting club.
A report from the Auditor-General found that McKenzie used a 100-million-Australian-dollar (68.8-million-U.S. dollar) sports grant scheme as a slush fund for the governing coalition's re-election campaign.
Rather than distributing grants to projects recommended by an independent panel, the report revealed that McKenzie's office instead funded projects in marginal electorates that proved decisive in the election.
Morrison said that McKenzie should have "put appropriate things in place to avoid potential conflict, such as asking another minister to make any decisions relating to organizations of which she was a member."
"The minister had failed to do that, and the Secretary found that this was in breach of the ministerial standards," he said.
However, he said that the investigation "did not find evidence that this process was unduly influenced by reference to marginal or targeted electorates."
Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Michael McCormack said in a statement that "the position of Deputy Leader of The Nationals is a matter for The Nationals Party Room, which is scheduled to meet on Tuesday Feb. 4, 2020."
He also said that he would act as the minister for agriculture until a new minister is appointed.