Former sports minister Bridget McKenzie and Prime Minister Scott Morrison are both feeling the heat over the sports grants scandal.
Former sports minister Bridget McKenzie and Prime Minister Scott Morrison are both feeling the heat over the sports grants scandal.

‘Ghost’ Logan cricket club gets sports grant, then folds

A FEDERAL grant for a small but defunct southside cricket club in a marginal seat is the latest to be linked to claims of  pork-barrelling during last year's federal election.

The Bethania Cricket Club was awarded the $100,000 grant in April.

A month later the Liberal and National parties scored a shock landslide election victory, which returned sitting MP Bert van Manen to his marginal seat of Forde.

The club used the funds to install lights and cricket nets at its grounds.

Days after winning the grant, the then-club president Jill Major took to Facebook in April to urge members to vote for Mr van Manen.

Three months later, the small club, which only had three senior teams, folded.

LOSING OUT: Loganholme Cricket Club’s Scott Rice (centre) with (from left) Andrew Hooper, 11, Byron Bell, 12 and Rocco Boulter, 10. Picture: Steve Pohlner
LOSING OUT: Loganholme Cricket Club’s Scott Rice (centre) with (from left) Andrew Hooper, 11, Byron Bell, 12 and Rocco Boulter, 10. Picture: Steve Pohlner

 

Mr van Manen defended the Bethania Cricket Club funding, claiming it came from the Community Development Grant program, separate to the controversial Community Sport Infrastructure Grant.

However, both grants were delivered under the federal Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development.

 

 

"Although the money was given to the club, it was to improve the grounds which are owned by Logan City Council," Mr van Manen said.

"So other community groups which use those grounds will benefit."

Labor senator Murray Watt said the Bethania funding was part of a wider grants plan to prop up marginal seats.

A grant of $100,000 was awarded to Bethania Cricket Club for lights and nets two months before the club became defunct after the election. Federal MP Bert van Manen’s seat was on one of the smallest margins in the country. Picture: Steve Pohlner
A grant of $100,000 was awarded to Bethania Cricket Club for lights and nets two months before the club became defunct after the election. Federal MP Bert van Manen’s seat was on one of the smallest margins in the country. Picture: Steve Pohlner

"This is evidence of a broader problem with grants used to buy votes," he said.

"Forde was a 'must-win' marginal seat and we now have better reasons for the unexpected LNP victory especially in knife-edge seats."

Loganholme Cricket Club president Scott Rice was told the grant money for the Bethania club could not be redirected.

 

"We really needed this sort of funding because we are a growing club with more than 120 players and up to 350 members - unlike the other club which was tiny," he said.

"There are no sporting grants around at the moment unless they are for community-based facilities.

"For us to get new nets under sporting grant program is almost impossible because our facilities are not shared by another club."



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