21 February 2020

I am committed to representing people living in Pyrenees Shire.

We should be working to make this area stronger. Like you, I want there to be a wealth of opportunities for young people so they can build a life close to home and for new residents to settle here from the cities and from overseas.

I’m taking a strong interest in rural issues like agriculture, harvest labour and temporary migration. We need to do more about the soaring costs of child care, the lack of access to health services and other essentials that local families need.

Often, federal politics feels far removed from the lives of rural Victorians. The news from Canberra focusses on ‘gotcha’ moments and seems very distant to the concerns of locals.

Take the sports rorts scandal, for example. The Auditor-General found that the Coalition may have subverted an independent process for their political and electoral benefit.

As high-profile politicians continue to publicly claim that there’s no issue of concern, the sad fact is that rural and regional sporting organisations are missing out on funding they need and deserve.

My preference is always to deal with facts and evidence, so let’s lay them out.

Over the course of three rounds of grants, the Coalition Government allocated $150 million in funding for local and community sport across Australia.

Hundreds of sporting clubs and local governments, including Pyrenees Shire, applied. Their applications were assessed by Sport Australia, an independent authority, and scored for their eligibility.

Sport Australia scored Pyrenees Shire Council’s $500,000 grant application 88 out of a possible score of 100.

Unfortunately, for reasons that have not yet been explained, Pyrenees Shire’s application was rejected by the Coalition Government.

At the same time, grant applications from organisations based in marginal electorates that did not score as highly were successful.

Concerningly, less than 10 per cent of the $150 million went to regional electorates.

It has been established that the offices of the Minister for Sport and the Prime Minister were working from a spreadsheet of applications where the electorates were colour-coded by party to allocate funding.

I’ll leave it to you to make your judgement about the politics of this. For my part, I’m worried that there are sporting groups across the Pyrenees are now left languishing with sub-standard facilities, and that local kids are missing out.

This is not how it should be.

This opinion piece was first published by the Pyrenees Advocate