Scott Morrison’s local soccer club embarked on a building project costing more than half a million dollars in October 2018, more than a month before sport grants were announced, without having enough funding to complete the project.
- Scott Morrison’s local soccer club started a construction project that was only partly funded more than a month before Community Sport Infrastructure grants were announced
- A club representative posted on Facebook that the final stage of funding was secured but they were still waiting to confirm when it would arrive
- Mr Morrison has previously appointed the president of the club, an online underwear entrepreneur, to a government board
An administrator of the Lilli Pilli Football Club indicated in a Facebook post on October 31 that year the remaining funding was coming so that construction would be finished by the start of the following season — even though applicants in the scheme were being assessed at the time.
The club announced $200,000 in funding from the scandal-plagued Community Sport Infrastructure grant program on December 22.
Former sports minister Bridget McKenzie is facing growing pressure to resign over the handling of the $100 million community sports grant program.
According to a report from auditor-general Grant Hehir that found bias in the scheme, Senator McKenzie’s office received representations from MPs, including through Mr Morrison’s office, during her assessment of applications.
“The evidence available to the [Audit Office] is that representations were received across the three rounds both directly and indirectly, including through the Prime Minister’s Office,” his report read.
According to ABC analysis of the 684 grants awarded, Lilli Pilli’s grant was the largest awarded to people in Mr Morrison’s electorate of Cook.
On October 31, 2018, responding to the club’s post announcing the project, a club representative said on Facebook the work would be finished by March or April.
“Depends on weather/timing of final stage funding.
“But we’ll be in for 2019 season.”
In 2017, Mr Morrison appeared at the opening of Lilli Pilli’s upgraded barbecue and seating facilities, funded by a $17,000 grant from the federal Stronger Communities program.
A spokesperson for Mr Morrison said the club had been fundraising and applying for government grants for a decade.
“The Football Club wrote to Scott Morrison as their local Member on 15 September, 2018, to inform him they had made an application through the proper process and attaching the application for reference.
“Subsequent to the letter, the Club asked Scott Morrison’s electorate staff if there was anything further they could do to strengthen their case for funding and were told it was a matter for the independent experts to assess.
“At no stage did Scott Morrison or his staff suggest the Club would be successful or even urge them to apply.”
Links to underwear entrepreneur
The president of the Lilli Pilli soccer club, Greg Storey, is director of an online male underwear store who was picked by Mr Morrison for a government board role when the now-Prime Minister was treasurer in 2018.
His five-year role with the Payments System Board required him to attend four meetings last year. He will be paid more than $300,000 over five years.
A former Visa executive, Mr Storey is a resident in the Port Hacking enclave near Lilli Pilli Oval and the home of the Prime Minister.
“Mr Storey is a highly regarded industry professional with experience and deep subject matter expertise in the evolution and operation of debit cards, credit cards and payments systems,” Mr Morrison said in August 2018.
According to Mr Storey’s LinkedIn profile, he left Visa in July 2016. In 2017, he set up the company Dozen Avenue with his son.
Its website outlines how it was founded.
“Picture it. Father and son sitting in the rumpus room watching sport and spitting out ideas of business ventures together on a giant notepad,” it stated.
“We imagined creating a product that fixed a problem that we were all too used to.”
Mr Morrison said when launching the clubhouse last year that he and Mr Storey have known each other since before he was an MP.
“That grants program — that we not only do here, we do all around the country — it actually isn’t about sport, it’s not about football,” he said.
“It’s about community at the end of the day, because in Australia, that’s how Australians come together.”
About the club
Lilli Pilli Football Club, one of the largest in the Sutherland Shire, is located close to Mr Morrison’s home in the southern beachside suburbs of Sydney.
It has previously had an application for a turf field rejected by the local council.
In rejecting the proposal in 2016, the Sporting Facilities Development Fund Panel noted the project would have given exclusivity to one club, and limited wider community benefit.
The field was returfed with new irrigation in 2017.
The new clubhouse has been planned for several years.
It was funded by club fundraising, council grants and the $200,000 in federal funds. Council documents show $210,000 had been earmarked for the oval’s toilet upgrade.
According to the club, “over half a million dollars of accumulated community funds” were invested into the project.
A Facebook page was dedicated to the oval’s upgrade.
We like to party
Speaking earlier on Monday, Mr Morrison said: “We had local sports clubs raising money for a decade and these grants came in and made these projects a reality on the ground, now people are going to argue the toss about this one versus that one.”
“But money’s finite and it can only go to so many projects.”
Mr Morrison has rejected calls for Senator McKenzie, who oversaw the program, to resign, and has maintained that all projects were eligible.