Mr Albanese said on Wednesday that Senator McKenzie has “got to go”.
“This is just red hot. This is just a rort. It fails the pub test. It fails every test,” he told Adelaide radio station FIVEaa.
“If [Prime Minister] Scott Morrison doesn’t take action here, this goes to fundamental integrity and faith in politics.
“A whole lot of grants … were given to some clubs, and I’m sure that many of them are worthwhile, but the problem is that, in order to get those grants, clubs that should have received the money, that in good faith went through processes, spent hundreds of hours doing applications, getting close, they missed out.”
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg defended his cabinet colleague on Wednesday morning.
“Grants right across the electorate, for Labor and Liberal members, and National Party members alike, applied through the proper processes, received the grants, they were all eligible and the money is being well spent,” Mr Frydenberg told 2GB radio.
Health Minister Greg Hunt defended the controversial sports grants program and the right of government MPs to lobby for sporting groups in their communities.
“The effect of Senator McKenzie’s decisions had been to increase the number of grants in ALP seats from 26 to 34 per cent. I think that would surprise most of the people to understand that,” Mr Hunt said.
Many of the grants went to marginal Labor electorates the Coalition was hoping to win at last year’s federal election.
On February 25 last year, Senator McKenzie announced $35,980 for the Wangaratta Clay Target Club from the Community Sports Infrastructure Grant program to assist with the installation of new toilets and amenities.
A month earlier, the club announced on its website that 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.”
Rob Harris is the National Affairs Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House in Canberra