Queensland MPs to benefit in post-sports rort reshuffle
EMBATTLED Senator Bridget McKenzie who quit over the $100 million sports grants scandal will be returned to the frontbench one day, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack confirmed ahead of today's mini reshuffle and just days after her political demise.
But a powerful Senate inquiry has been set up to investigate the scandal, seeking to reveal the full list of clubs that missed out on funding and find any links to the Prime Minister.
Queensland MPs are expected to benefit from the reshuffle, with Hinkler MP Keith Pitt heavily tipped to replace Senator Matt Canavan, who quit Cabinet to back Barnaby Joyce in this week's failed spill.
Victorian Darren Chester is also anticipated to be promoted from the outer minister to Cabinet.
An announcement on who will be promoted to the frontbench is not expected until later today, which will see the new Ministers avoid tough questions in Parliament on their first day.
Capricornia MP and one of Mr McCormack's backers Michelle Landry said the disquiet had settled and it would be good to see another Queenslander elevated to Cabinet.
"Matt (Canavan) and I work as a team in central Queensland and that will continue," she said.
But Mr McCormack said he felt sorry for Senator McKenzie, who resigned on Sunday after she was found to have breached Ministerial standards.
"I look forward to Bridget working hard for regional Victoria in her senate role and coming back later on down the track. Other ministers have done that," he told Sky News.
The independent auditor-general's report found the sports grants scheme overseen by Senator McKenzie had a bias favouring marginal seats held or targeted by the Coalition.
Despite this Mr McCormack said if Senator McKenzie had declared membership in a shooting club she approved a $36,000 grant to she would have survived.
Opposition sports spokesman Don Farrell said the Senate probe would call the auditor-general to give evidence, while he also urged former staffers of Senator McKenzie to come forward.
"We will use all of the powers available to the Senate to get to the bottom of this absolute rort," he said.
Mr Joyce again said that his challenge had been finalised, but defended it as part of the democratic process.
"There was a spill of positions, I stood and I lost. I respect and support the vote of the room and will strive for the re-election of a Morrison McCormack Government," he said.