Senior Australian minister resigns after coming under scrutiny for fraudulent behavior

PM Scott Morrison had supported her to retain her position

An independent audit found money from a sports development fund amounting up to A$100 million which was used to target voters before the federal election last year. The audit has led to the resignation of a senior Australian lawmaker from leadership roles on Sunday.

The former sports minister and deputy leader of the National Party Bridget McKenzie, has been trying to save her political career after the audit revealed the public spending.

Recently she had taken the role of the Minister for Agriculture during one of the toughest times in Australia because of droughts and the ongoing bushfires.

Bridget McKenzie
Bridget McKenzie Wikimedia Commons

McKenzie was backed by Australian Prime Minister

Conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison had backed McKenzie to remain in a leadership role, but his support weakened after revelations that the Nationals lawmaker approved an A$36,000 ($24,620) grant for a shooting club where she was a member.

A departmental report found McKenzie's failure to disclose her gun club membership breached ministerial rules, triggering the resignation on Sunday.

"On the basis of that, and it is a conflict of interest in the failure to disclose, the minister has tendered her resignation to me this afternoon," Morrison said at a media briefing.

Morrison said the report did not find McKenzie's use of the sports funds breached ministerial standards. The topic is likely to be debated when Australia's parliament resumes this week.

McKenzie said in a news release that although she accepted the report from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, her membership in the shooting club did not influence her decision- making.

Morrison secured re-election in May 2019, defying polls that had indicated voters would punish the conservative government for the backbench revolt that ousted former leader Malcolm Turnbull in 2018.

In an effort to regain ground in the polls, Morrison's government promised record investment in local sports.

The Australian National Audit Office said 400 projects received funding, with more than 70% done without any endorsement by the governing body for the sport in Australia.

(With inputs from agency)