An audit into a controversial grants program overseen by Peter Dutton has been launched. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Dan Peled
An audit into a controversial grants program overseen by Peter Dutton has been launched. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Dan Peled

Probe launched over Dutton rort claim

The national auditor has launched an probe into a controversial funding program overseen by Peter Dutton.

The former home affairs minister cut millions in funding to organisations strongly recommended for grants, and redirected the money to his own hand-picked recipients, according to the ABC.

Labor requested the auditor-general look into the Safer Communities Fund, which Mr Dutton oversaw, after allegations the program had been used to target marginal seats.

The National Audit Office (ANAO) confirmed in March it was considering the move and on Wednesday wrote to Labor senator Kristina Keneally to confirm an audit was under way.

"The objective of this audit is to assess whether the award of funding under the Safer Communities Fund was effective and consistent with the Commonwealth Grant Rules and Guidelines," it read.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton has denied wrongdoing. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Dan Peled
Defence Minister Peter Dutton has denied wrongdoing. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Dan Peled

The audit will examine whether the applications were properly assessed, informed and documented.

The ANAO is expected to table the audit in February.

Ms Keneally welcomed the revelation on Wednesday, accusing the Liberal Party of running a "safer seat rorts" in the lead-up to the 2019 campaign.

"Now, more than ever, Australians want and deserve transparency and integrity in their government," she said.

"The Liberals treat taxpayer money like it's Liberal Party money. How can they be looking after Australian families when they are so busy looking after themselves?"

Mr Dutton previously described allegations he acted inappropriately as "baseless".

"The suggestion that the government has done anything other than support projects worthy of support is nonsense," he said.

Kristina Keneally has accused the government of running targeting marginal seats. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Christian Gilles
Kristina Keneally has accused the government of running targeting marginal seats. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Christian Gilles

The Defence Minister intervened to fast-track a $880,000, one-off grant for the National Retailers Association (NRA).

The decision came just a week after the NRA made a $1500 donation to the Liberal National Party of Queensland at an event attended by the former home affairs minister.

Mr Dutton has denied the donation prompted his intervention, and departmental advice subsequently found the expenditure - used to fund a program helping realtors responding to armed attackers - represented value for money.

But Mr Dutton was also accused of overriding recommendations by funding two local councils in a marginal seat just before a crucial by-election.

NCA NewsWire has approached Mr Dutton office for comment.

Originally published as Probe launched over Dutton rort claim



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