“If anything … there was a case of reverse pork barrelling going on,” she told reporters.
Senator McKenzie said as a result of her intervention 34 per cent of the projects delivered went into Labor party electorates, compared with 26 per cent of projects that were originally recommended.
“In fact, my intervention actually increased the amount of projects being delivered to local sporting clubs in Labor party electorates,” she said.
“The Auditor-General’s report is really, really clear: No rules were broken, every single one of those 684 projects that was funded were eligible and I would love to have nearly $400 million to fund every single eligible project across the country,” Senator McKenzie said.
Asked if she would resign she said: “That is absolutely ridiculous.”
The auditors found $41 million was splurged on projects in 47 marginal or targeted seats with nine of the 10 electorates approved to receive the most money in either marginal seats or seats being eyed by the Coalition.
These seats would have received less funding if Sports Australia merit assessments had been used.
More than 60 per cent of applications were funded despite not reaching the necessary assessment score.
Nine of the 10 electorates that received the least funding were also Labor or “safe” government seats.
The audit was triggered after Labor complained that Liberal candidate Georgina Downer handed over a giant novelty cheque worth $127,373 to a bowling club while campaigning for the seat of Mayo last year.
Opposition sports spokesman Don Farrell accused Senator McKenzie of “pork barrelling” on an industrial scale and said the Prime Minister must sack her.
“Somebody has to be accountable for what’s gone on here. There’s been an outrageous use of government funds. Pork-barrelling on an industrial scale.”
He cited the example of former Labor minister Ros Kelly – married to former Westpac CEO David Morgan – who quit over the “sports rorts affair” in 1994.
“The example of Ros Kelly is the perfect example. When these issues were raised, she resigned. This is what happened on this occasion. Bridget McKenzie should resign and if she doesn’t, Scott Morrison should sack her.”
Independent MP for Warringah Zali Steggall said it showed Australia needed a national integrity commission with “real powers”.
The Coledale Waves soccer club, south of Sydney, missed out on a grant for a better playing surface and a change room.
“It is not acceptable. To me, that’s a corrupt process. They can’t tell you there’s this selection criteria and process in play that actually doesn’t exist at all,” club volunteer Lisa Millar told the ABC.