THE member for Indi is supporting a push for the auditor-general to examine another federal government program in the wake of the sports rorts affair.
Helen Haines on Monday echoed a call by the Labor Party for scrutiny of the Building the Better Regions Fund on the basis it unfairly favoured Coalition seats.
"We all need to be reassured that correct process has been followed," Dr Haines said.
Her comment followed Labor's regional development spokeswoman Catherine King writing to the auditor-general with a call for a probe into the regional fund.
"I have asked the Auditor-General to take a thorough look at what clearly appears to be another Morrison Government rort," Ms King said.
She told the auditor she was concerned by then Nationals candidate for Indi Mark Byatt unveiling successful applicants "as well as what appears to the politicisation of taxpayer-funded grants and the impact on my communities".
Indi landed $3.651 million for eight projects through the funding round with beneficiaries including rail trails between Beechworth, Yackandandah and Bright and Harrietville and Shelley and Tallangatta, the Wangaratta Football and Netball Club and Yackandandah Pistol Club.
Ms McGowan said on Monday she supported Ms King's bid to have an inquiry activated.
"I absolutely agree, absolutely agree," Ms McGowan said.
"Transparency and credibility in these grant-making programs is so important because it relies on public trust and the volunteers that do all the work need to know they're going to be treated without policy bias.
"Even though Indi benefited it's not good governance."
Ms McGowan underlined her point by noting $250,000 had been proved for a new Myrtleford Scout Hall by the Coalition government during last year's election campaign without reference to a program under which it had been funded.
This is EXACTLY why we need a federal integrity body with wide powers that can ask for documents, interview witnesses and make a call about whether an incident raises issues of ministerial conduct or something more serious #Auspol#sportsrorts#FederalICAChttps://t.co/krGlhjwcrI— Helen Haines MP (@helenhainesindi) February 2, 2020
The Building Better Regions Fund was administered by Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack.
He defended the fund's distribution to the Nine media group which found 94 per cent went to seats held by the Coalition or targeted by it at last year's election.
"Overall the Building Better Regions Fund goes to more Coalition seats, because we hold more regional seats. Labor doesn't hold that many regional seats," Mr McCormack said.
"As the Nationals leader, as Minister for Regional Development, I'll always make sure that regional funding goes to regional areas. No one could point the finger at this project and say 'it wasn't worthy, it wasn't fair'."
Mr McCormack dismissed any suggestion of wrongdoing similar to the sports grants overseen by his deputy Bridget McKenzie, who resigned as a minister on Sunday.
"Whoever wrote that question, should go and take a look at themselves. That is a ridiculous question." he said.
Senator McKenzie resigned after breaching ministerial rules by failing to declare her membership of the Wangaratta Clay Target Club while giving them $36,000 for new toilets.
She said in Canberra on Monday she accepted full responsibility for her actions.
"I signed the resignation letter," Senator McKenzie said.
"The breach of ministerial standards was clear.
"I should have declared those memberships in a more timely fashion."
Dr Haines said Senator McKenzie had no choice but to resign, but said Prime Minister Scott Morrison had the "bar set unacceptably low" by not addressing the pork-barrelling identified by the auditor-general.
Last year's Nationals Indi election campaign manager Bill Sykes on Monday lauded Senator McKenzie and said he was unaware of funding machinations.
"I've known her for 15 years, in fact I was one of those who nominated her for a Senate position," Mr Sykes said.
"Bridget is a person, who as a single mum raised four kids who all turned out pretty good and she is one hell of a fighter."
The election to replace Senator McKenzie as deputy leader on Tuesday will be accompanied by a vote on the Nationals leadership.
Former leader Barnaby Joyce will challenge Mr McCormack, telling Sky News the party needed to "survive and thrive" and was "under threat from all sides".