SENATOR BRIDGET McKENZIE: Yesterday, I resigned my ministry and I informed the leader of the National Party I'd be stepping down from my leadership roles.
I took that step because I accept that my failure to declare my membership to certain sports shooting clubs in a timely manner constituted a breach of the ministerial standards. And that is something I take very, very seriously.
I do not accept that those memberships were a conflict of interest.
I received no personal benefit. They did not inform my decision making at all.
I am very proud of a program by this government to fund 684 local sports clubs around the country to get Australians more active and it was a good thing.
The Prime Minister and Cabinet’s report confirms that ministerial discretion was exercised in an appropriate manner, that there was no political bias in my decision making.
It's been an immense honour and privilege to assert the Australian people, as a National Party minister in two Coalition governments.
To have been part of a leadership team that delivered a surprising and iconic victory last May, and an immense honour to be our nation's very first female Agricultural Minister, there’s a lot of unfinished work there, and I hope I won't be the last.
Nearly a decade ago, I came into the Senate to serve the needs and interests of rural and regional Australians, to champion them in Parliament and to make a difference to their life.
I plan to continue to do that. Any questions?
REPORTER: (Inaudible crowd noise), Are you been made a scapegoat?
REPORTER: Do you feel you're taking the fall for the greater good of the Coalition? And would you like to return to Cabinet one day?
McKENZIE: Well, Lanai, I take responsibility for all my decisions. And I signed the resignation letter yesterday, I signed off on 684 sporting programs that I know making a difference in communities right now.
You know, the breach of ministerial standards was clear, I should have declared those memberships in a more timely fashion.
REPORTER: Senator, looking at the leadership, will you consider backing Barnaby Joyce or an alternative candidate to Michael McCormack.
McKENZIE: Now everyone here, who has known me for nearly 10 years, knows that I'm one of the people that don't talk to you all about what happens in the Party Room, what I say to my colleagues.
So, there is one vacancy tomorrow, it’s my deputy leadership position. In true National Party fashion, I'm sure they'll be a Melbourne Cup field of candidates. And as one of the most democratic institutions in this parliament for 100 years, the Party Room will make its own decision.
This is the last question.
REPORTER: (Inaudible … Have you taken responsibility …) Did Michael McCormack formally recuse himself from the application he made to you, ah that was made to you, by the [Mangoplah – Cookardinia – Eastlakes United] Goannas Netball Club for $140,000.
McKENZIE: I'm not taking questions on individual projects.
REPORTER: Minister, you say you've taken responsibility for your role in this grants program. Do you think there are others in the government that need to take responsibility for their role in this scheme?
McKENZIE: I'm the Minister responsible. That's what the Westminster system is all about. I had ministerial discretion. It was used appropriately (inaudible interjection) and we've got 684 projects funded right across the country delivering great benefits.