Federal government ministers made dozens of secret funding decisions against the advice of their own departments last year. 

The Senate responded to the revelation of widespread pork-barrelling and ‘sports rorts’ last year by requiring ministers who administer grants to declare when their decisions went against bureaucrats' recommendations, or if the funding was aimed at their own electorate.  

The first report under the new regime has now been released, showing that federal government ministers went their own way almost 60 times, and most of the decisions were made in secret. 

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack made 49 decisions against the advice of his own department, and Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs Jason Wood reported eight such decisions.

The decisions taken by Mr McCormack under the BBRF were reportedly redacted because they were discussed at Cabinet.

ACT Labor senator Katy Gallagher questioned Finance Minister Simon Birmingham about the matter in a Senate committee this week.

Senator Birmingham said the administration of the grants schemes has been appropriate.

“In terms of regional Australia, the government overwhelmingly holds electorates across regional Australia,” Senator Birmingham said.

“It would not be of a surprise that there might be a disproportionate amount (in Coalition seats).

“It ultimately comes down to the applications made, the quality of those applications.”