By The Bug‘s senior political reporter RENEE ELLAVIRUS
Senator Bridget McKenzie has been summarily sacked from federal Cabinet.
Decisive and proactive Prime Minister Scott Morrison axed the unfairly targeted Agriculture Minister this morning after receiving a scathing report into her time as Sports Minister and any role she might have unwittingly played in the alleged sports rorts scandal now threatening – in some political scribes’ minds – to derail our… sorry, I mean … his government’s excellent works.
In his timely report, the head of the Prime Minister’s Department Philip Gaetjens has found that the Victorian Liberal Senator clearly breached “acceptable ministerial standards”.
In his report to the PM, Mr Gaetjens wrote: “Senator McKenzie should have known better than to award that $36,000 grant to a Victorian shooting club without disclosing she was a member.
“While not a sackable offence, and I appreciate she thought the gift was under the value required for declaration, the minister should have known better and should be cautioned.”
Mr Gaetjens went on the praise the Prime Minister for providing him with wide-ranging terms of reference that allowed him to look at other matters involving the Senator’s performance “despite that club grant being clearly the prime focus of my investigations, as it should rightly have been”.
“In those widened investigations, I also discovered that on the same day she visited the club to announce the grant, Senator McKenzie also attended a nearby Country Women’s Association luncheon.
“Unfortunately she turned up in riding boots, a pair of jeans and an oversized rural worker’s shirt in a frightfully over-the-top shade of green.
“All the CWA ladies were suitably attired in sensible, polished leather shoes, woollen dark grey skirts and blue pin-tucked blouses, or in the case of some of the older members, a twin set and pearls. It was rather a cold day, I believe. All wore lovely hats.
“Senator McKenzie’s attire was entirely inappropriate for that particular luncheon and way below the standard expected of a minister.”
Scott …. I’m sorry …. Mr Morrison said this morning he had been horrified by his department’s chief’s findings.
“Appearances are everything in my government and I’m afraid Senator McKenzie has let the side down badly.
“She needs a major dressing down for not dressing up,” he quipped.
“She is therefore suspended from Cabinet for 48 hours and I hope Bridget takes that time off on the backbench to reflect on what she’s done wrong and rethink her commitment to the standards I expect of my ministers and all of their staffs as well.”
Nationals leader Michael McCormack will be acting Agriculture Minister until Ms McKenzie resumes her Cabinet duties in time for the return of the federal parliament on Tuesday.