An avid shooter in her spare time, Senator McKenzie also did not publicly disclose she was the official patron of the Australian Clay Target Association, in line with common practice from federal MPs, senators and ministers.
In June 2018, Senator McKenzie told regional ABC radio the association had shared in a $22 million national funding package aimed at increasing participation in sport.
She served as sports minister from December 20, 2017 until the May 2019 election, signing off on $1,004,219 for shooting organisations, including a $100,000 grant to Shooting Australia to help older Australians take part in the sport.
Seven shooting clubs also received money – including $500,000 for the NT Field and Game Association – under two rounds of the controversial Community Sport Infrastructure program.
More than $160,000 was also spent commissioning a report into the economic and social impacts of recreational hunting and shooting, which put the net figure at $335 million with 3300 jobs.
Senator McKenzie’s office said this week she was co-operating with the review into her administration and was confident she had not breached ministerial standards.
A spokeswoman said she had not declared the membership of the Wangaratta Clay Target Club because it was valued below the $300 threshold, while she had never “formally” accepted the position as patron of the national clay target body, which was also not declared.
“As the founder and co-chair of Parliamentary Friends of Shooting her support for shooting sports is very public and well documented,” the spokeswoman said.
Nationals leader Michael McCormack said on Friday he believed Senator McKenzie had followed all the processes she was required to do as a minister and was doing an “outstanding job”.
“Bridget McKenzie has declared her memberships, as she was required to do. Bridget McKenzie has followed the process, as she was required to do,” Mr McCormack said.
“And let me tell you, this process that she followed was way and above more transparent and more accountable than the processes the previous Labor government has put into place.”
Mr McCormack said the process should take its “natural course” and “we’ll see what happens after that”.
He hit out at unnamed colleagues who had been critical of her in the media and said some reports about issue had been “simply untrue”.
“What MPs should do is if they are going to make a comment, put your name to it,” he told Sydney radio 2GB.
“Support your colleagues. Australians… don’t want to be thinking that their politicians are just backgrounding against each other, which quite frankly aren’t in the national interest.”
The auditor-general’s report last week slammed Senator McKenzie over her handling of the program, which she oversaw as sports minister, revealing she and her staff intervened hundreds of times to overturn the merit-based assessments of applications from sporting groups for cash.
Attorney-General Christian Porter will also review legal issues raised by the auditor-general’s report as to whether the former sports minister had the legal authority to determine successful grant recipients.
Rob Harris is the National Affairs Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House in Canberra