FORMER sports minister Bridget McKenzie has reacted furiously to claims by a fellow senator that her office was involved in "rorting" a recreation grants scheme.
Appearing before a senate committee investigating the government program that resulted in her resigning as a minister, the Wodonga MP was angered when Greens Senator Janet Rice asked about employees.
"You didn't know what your staff were doing, you had no idea that they were preparing information that was basically going to be critical to be rorting this scheme of hundreds of millions of dollars?" Senator Rice said.
Senator McKenzie fired back "withdraw that comment" and asked if she would repeat "that word".
After Senator Rice said it was the evidence, Senator McKenzie sought the committee chair have the remark withdrawn, saying "that word is not mentioned in the audit report" into the scheme and was "an unfair characterisation and unparliamentary".
Senator Rice did not withdraw the comment which was related to a memo compiled by one of the former minister's advisers that linked the issuing of the grants to marginal seats.
Senator McKenzie said she was unaware of the memo and dismissed the suggestion that politics influenced where money was spent under the program.
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"The memo was never provided to me, nor was it ever seen by me," she said.
"The data also refutes this false conclusion.
"Applications in electorates labelled marginal and targeted in that memo were less likely to be approved than those that were labelled as such.
"I know that it doesn't fit the narrative that you are trying to pursue, but they are actually the facts."
Senator McKenzie also said more Labor than Coalition seats received grants.
She said she took responsibility for the program and laughed at the suggestion by Labor committee chair Anthony Chisholm she had been promised something by Prime Minister Scott Morrison "to take the fall for this".
"Yeah c'mon, really?" she replied before adding "no, not at all".
Senator McKenzie said the PM did not choose recipients and there was nothing unusual in the level of communication between her office and Mr Morrison's.
She noted Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary Phil Gaetjens found no breach of ministerial standards of fairness.
"But I was gifted an honorary membership to the value of $30 by the Wangaratta Clay Target Club which secretary Gaetjens found I breached because I didn't declare that in a timely manner," Senator McKenzie said.
"I take the Prime Minister's ministerial standards very seriously....and so I choose to tender my resignation."