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Given the intricacies of the sports rorts controversy can be bamboozling, let’s keep this actually easy.

Scott Morrison has invested the weeks given that the Australian National Audit Workplace completely eviscerated his federal government’s administration of the $100m sports grants program presenting himself and his workplace as a bunch of breezy feedback brokers, simply hiding about occasionally to give the sport minister a hand.

In this version of events, while the previous sport minister Bridget McKenzie lined up the various grants to be presented throughout last year’s election on the now infamous colour-coded spreadsheets– assembling and changing the list of projects she proposed to fund, summarised by state, political celebration and electorate– the prime minister’s office, by Morrison’s account, just handed down various representations from MPs.

Caring and sharing. As you do.

The prime minister’s workplace was a redirection service, regularly passing on the hopes and imagine colleagues, and their plucky sports clubs, to Bridget, so Bridget might decide, because she was the decider.

However the facts tell a various story.

The ANAO has revealed that between 17 October 2018 and 11 April 2019 McKenzie and Morrison’s workplace exchanged 136 emails about the program. Now maybe this level of traffic corresponds in some universe with hands-off caring and sharing, however, objectively, this is rather a great deal of caring and sharing.

It recommends more than a passing interest. It suggests active coordination.

We have the hassle of records in the hands of the auditor indicating the prime minister’s workplace in fact made things happen. I’ll let Brian Boyd from the ANAO use up the story.

Boyd informed a Senate approximates hearing on Monday night McKenzie “kept the spreadsheet at all times”, but there was a lot of inbound. Often, Boyd stated, the prime minister’s office made representations, “but not all of those representations led to a change”.

But at other times those “representations” led to concrete results. “For instance, when I described one project coming out and one project coming in, in regards to the 8.46 am version, that was at the request of the prime minister’s office”.

Let’s repeat that last bit. At the demand of the prime minister’s workplace. Translation: pull this, and insert that, hey presto!

Obviously this is more than representations, take it or leave it.

It wonders if you are Scott Morrison and you choose to reveal the first, the representations, while omitting the 2nd, the results you engineer, when the 2nd element is really more product.

Morrison’s whole purpose in building his “we were simply the freight-forwarders” defence is that he and his office were hands off, that this was all Bridget. Let’s call this technique what it is: shot. Fire wall construction.

The difficulty for Morrison is every brand-new piece of proof that emerges tells us this wasn’t all Bridget. This wasn’t even near to being all Bridget. But only Bridget has lost her frontbench area, and that was on a technicality.

It’s a strange sort of universe where there is a clear documentary path suggestive of considerable alternative truths, however just Bridget deals with practical repercussions for suboptimal actions, and everyone else gets a self-conferred complimentary pass.

And when I say weird, I imply unjust. I imply wrong. I indicate not even near to good enough.

As consequences for actions apparently being approximate, the sports grants controversy has likewise discovered cameos suggestive of a government that is completely fast and loose with procedure and convention.

From where I sit, this is deeply stressing. The most distressing thing about it is the complete lack of contrition, and the frequent tetchy tips from Morrison that anybody who dares to call out the reckless tendencies is a nit-picker, or a partisan, or a bubble occupant.

A bit like when the prime minister tried to reject inconvenient questions about whether he attempted to get the Hillsong pastor Brian Houston along to a state supper at the White Home as “chatter” and a bubble fixation, before suddenly verifying this had held true all along. Perturbing– the short runway in between chatter and truth.

This column isn’t a piece of advocacy for McKenzie. I’m quite certain she can care for herself.

I state these realities to make another point, and the point is about trust. Trust matters. Trust is the glue that holds democracies together.

Morrison asks for trust every day that he stands up and speaks with the country about managing the coronavirus.

The prime minister asks to be believed. He asks people to listen, to follow recommendations. Implicit in this pitch is words, guidance, declarations, from the holder of his high office, bring meaning, and they follow truths and evidence.

Being believed, being trusted, is an antidote to prevalent disinformation, and inexpensive jack demagoguery. It is, in fact, the best remedy we have to these things.

But “believe me, I’m the prime minister” doesn’t work if you then behave in a way totally irregular with your own demand.

Here’s the rub, prime minister. Being truthful isn’t a reason for benefit. Voters have eyes and ears, and they aren’t mugs.