Liberal MP Andrew Laming awarded $550,000 grant to rugby membership linked to his staffer

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The Liberal Nationwide MP Andrew Laming awarded a $550,000 grant to a rugby membership with hyperlinks to one in every of his employees members as a part of the federal government’s controversial feminine sports activities amenities grants program.

The grant is one in every of 5 which were awarded to the membership prior to now three years via Laming, with 4 others nominated by the MP totalling $33,500.

Laming, who’s below investigation by the Australian Electoral Fee for greater than 30 Fb pages he operated with out disclosing his identification, is on go away from parliament after stories about his poor behaviour in direction of girls.

Whereas he has introduced he won’t contest the following election, Laming will stay within the Liberal Nationwide get together and sit on the federal government benches, the place the Coalition holds a one-seat majority.

As the federal government continues to withstand strain over Laming’s reported behaviour, Guardian Australia can reveal that Laming gave $550,000 to a sports activities membership with hyperlinks to a employees member in his voters workplace.

The grant was awarded to the Southern Bay Cyclones rugby union membership for the redevelopment of a clubhouse on the Charlie Buckler Memorial sports activities discipline at Redland Bay.

The secretary of the Southern Bay Cyclones is James Eaton, who’s married to Laming’s voters officer, Stephanie Eaton.

When Laming introduced the grant, he posed with James Eaton on the clubhouse. Guardian Australia understands there was no disclosure of the private hyperlink to one in every of his long-serving electoral officers.

On the time, the Southern Bay Cyclones president, Will Baker, welcomed the grant, describing it as “Andrew Laming’s federal funding of $500,000”.

The funding was awarded below the controversial $150m feminine amenities and water security stream, which was by no means open to functions, with initiatives chosen as election commitments and most situated in Coalition-held seats.

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The federal government’s GrantConnect portal reveals that Laming has awarded the rugby membership 4 different grants over the previous three years, together with a volunteer grant that went to the acquisition of a brand new espresso machine.

Two volunteer grants price a mixed $8,500 had been paid to the membership, together with $25,000 in two separate grants below the Stronger Communities program.

Funds had been used for a brand new scoreboard, a canteen renovation and different membership upgrades.

The stronger communities program is a recurring grant scheme that arms $150,000 to every of Australia’s 151 federal electorates for the loosely outlined purpose of “delivering social advantages”.

Candidates are recognized by native MPs and invited to submit an software, that are then thought-about via a closed, non-competitive course of.

For volunteer grants, MPs nominate organisations however should declare any battle of curiosity, with the division saying MPs should “take account of native want and program goals: to assist group organisations to assist the efforts of Australia’s volunteers”.

The Feminine Amenities and Water Security Stream funding program got here below hearth for its lack of departmental involvement within the lead-up to the final election and, regardless of an expectation that it will be open for functions, all $150m of the fund was spent through the election marketing campaign.

“The FFWSS Program was not open to functions for grants. The initiatives had been chosen as election commitments,” a spokesperson for the division mentioned on the time.

Guardian Australia has contacted the Southern Cyclones rugby membership, Laming and the Eatons for remark.

On Wednesday, the social providers and ladies’s security minister, Anne Ruston, was requested about Laming’s behaviour and whether or not he remained a “match and correct” particular person to take a seat within the Coalition get together room.

She known as on Laming to have a “very critical take into consideration the implications of his actions on different folks”.

“I feel everyone in Australia assume what’s he has finished is abhorrent,” she mentioned.

“I feel we have to give Mr Laming a few weeks to mirror on that. I might be very keen on his response when he returns from that second – that point of reflection.”

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