80% of fund for female sports goes to Coalition seats

May 2019

On the eve of the 2019 election, the Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a $150 million fund for female change rooms and swimming pools in a nationwide program. Two Liberal-held seats received 40 per cent ($60 million) of the funding – the ultra-marginal Corangamite, which the Liberals lost, and the marginal WA seat of Pearce, which Attorney-General Christian Porter retained. 

According to the ABC, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and then-sports minister Senator McKenzie claimed the Female Facilities and Water Safety Stream (FFWSS) was a nationwide program aimed at encouraging women in sport but the great majority of funding was pledged towards swimming pools in just 11 Coalition-held seats. Moreover, guidelines were promised but never published and the scheme was never open for applications.

Two pools in the Nationals’ seats of Cowper, in NSW, shared more than $10 million for two pools projects under the fund. According to the ABC, the Coalition was concerned that independent candidate and former MP Rob Oakeshott might win the seat.

A document prepared by the Infrastructure Department shows guidelines for the program were meant to be delivered by June 2019. But they have never been released and funding for the four-year program had already been exhausted by the start of 2020. Some $120 million of the FFWSS program has been allocated to 14 pools, all in seats held by the Coalition at the time of the election.

Moreover, one Queensland community that received funding to build a new school swimming pool say they did not want the pool, according to the ABC. Coalition MP Luke Howarth announced the $2 million for a new pool at the Mango Hill State Secondary College in his electorate of Petrie just a week out from the federal election. But the pool is now not going ahead, due to concerns about the costs and space required.

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