A month earlier the club announced on its website Senator McKenzie had visited the club on January 25, which was “her second visit in recent months”.
She made the funding announcement alongside Nationals candidate Mark Byatt who was contesting the seat of Indi in Victoria’s north-east, then held by independent MP Cathy McGowan.
“Not many gun clubs can claim federal ministers amongst their membership, but the Wangaratta Clay Target Club now can,” the club’s announcement said.
“While here to talk to the committee, Bridget signed up to our club as a full fee-paying member. She is moving her electorate office to our region and chose our club to show her support for the work we are doing to not only keep the club active, but to continually improve all aspects of our operations.”
Senator McKenzie had not disclosed the fact she was a member of the club when her senator’s register of interests was last updated on November 21 – almost 10 months after signing up.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg have themselves publicly disclosed memberships and patronages of clubs such as North Cronulla Surf Life Saving Club, St George Football Association, Kew Hockey Club and Auburn Bowls Club.
A spokeswoman for Senator McKenzie said on Tuesday night as the Wangaratta Clay Target Club membership was a “gift” in January 2019 and valued at less than $300, a declaration to the Senate was “unnecessary”.
“Round-two funding became available in December 2018 at MYEFO and funding decisions were made from that time,” the spokeswoman said.
As a minister, Senator McKenzie is also required to disclose potential conflicts on a register of personal interests kept by the Prime Minister’s Office and potentially recuse herself from the decision-making process.
Senator McKenzie’s office did not answer questions regarding whether the interest was declared to the Prime Minister’s Office or if she recused herself from the decision-making process.
“As the founder and co-chair of Parliamentary Friends of Shooting her support for shooting sports is very public and well documented,” her spokeswoman said.
Unlike an MP or senator’s register, the ministerial register of interest is not publicly available.
The ministerial code of standards dictates ministers must declare and register their interests, including pecuniary interests, within 28 days of any changes.
“Failure to declare or register a relevant and substantive personal interest as required by the Parliament constitutes a breach of these standards,” the code states.
Mr Frydenberg said on Tuesday all of the projects funded were deemed eligible under the program’s guidelines, which was administered by Sport Australia.
“No rules were broken, all the projects were eligible,” Mr Frydenberg said.
Labor, the Greens and Senate crossbenchers including Pauline Hanson and Jacqui Lambie have called for Senator McKenzie’s resignation from the Coalition’s ministry and plan to establish a Senate inquiry into the scheme when Parliament returns next month.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said on Tuesday Mr Morrison needed to sack Senator McKenzie and if he didn’t questions needed to be asked about his office’s involvement.
The Guardian Australia also revealed on Monday the Coalition’s controversial sports grants scheme awarded $500,000 to an upmarket, Perth tennis club boasting “million-dollar views”, and $190,000 to a golf club in the Adelaide Hills that wanted to upgrade its foyer to attract more wedding bookings.
Mr Morrison said on Monday he would continue to support Senator McKenzie, adding the audit found her interventions had produced more money for Labor seats.
He has tasked Attorney-General Christian Porter to scrutinise the legality of the program after the audit also questioned whether Senator McKenzie had the legal authority to approve the grants.
Rob Harris is the National Affairs Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House in Canberra