An angry Scott Morrison has lashed out at “misguided media criticism” of a second sports grants program that was rolled out during last year’s election to provide female change rooms at swimming pools around the nation.
“Heavens to Betsy,” the Prime Minister said of criticisms that just two federal marginal electorates held by the Liberals received 40 per cent of the $150 million funding from the so-called Female Facilities and Water Safety Stream (FFWSS) program.
“FFWSS indeed,” Mr Morrison told a hastily arranged doorstop at Parliament House to which he invited all News Corp Australia political scribes.
The $150 million scheme is separate to the $100 million Sports Australia scheme that has cost Bridget McKenzie her place in Cabinet. Both the PM and McKenzie have defended that scheme so that “girls don’t have to get changed behind the sheds'”.
Mr Morrison said of the more costly scheme: “Of course the project was originally pitched as a merit-based sports grant scheme for local clubs in need of upgrading facilities to make them female-friendly.
“But you can’t have dedicated female change rooms if you don’t have swimming pools for girls and women to change into cossies for … and that’s exactly what the government provided.
“And sure, there were no guidelines, no tender process, no application process and some organisations got funding they hadn’t asked for and a few might have since closed anyway and others are angry that they can’t afford their fair share or ongoing costs but, goodness gracious me, people, time was of the essence here!
“Does anyone now doubt how crucial it was to get these new 25-metre and 50 metre pools formally announced if not started during last year’s election?”
The PM was ultra critical of claims yesterday in the main left-leaning media – “the Australian Broadcasting Communists!” – that the great majority of funding has been pledged towards swimming pools in just 11 Coalition-held seats.
“And the simple reason for that? That’s exactly where new pools were needed to warrant the expense of building female change rooms to complement them!
“Heavens above, people. This isn’t rocket surgery,” he said, deliberately making his smirk more condescending than normal.
“And that’s why it’s not disputed that 40 per cent of the program’s funding went to just two Liberal-held seats — Corangamite, in Victoria and the West Australian seat of Pearce, held by Attorney-General Christian Porter,” Mr Morrison explained as Renee Viellaris started to feed his media release to her sub-editors up at The Courier-Mail with “front-page write-off to come”.
Mr Morrison said the left-leaning media had completely overlooked the fact that all the new pools built under the FFWSS scheme would, in what was believed to be a world first, boast swimming pools that had their water dyed pink rather than than boasting the traditional blue look.
“My government is committed to ensuring female swimmers, from teenagers to ladies, can enjoy these wonderful new facilities provided by the Liberal Party and enjoy a swim with confidence and without any fear of embarrassment at that time of the month.”
Mr Morrison said he hoped the new swimming pools and their female change rooms would be ready in time for local Liberal MPs to officially open them during the 2022 federal election campaign.
Unfortunately, the ABC wasn’t present to ask whether it was true that plans under the FFWSS scheme for the two pools promised for Corangamite (below) had since been scrapped.