Australia

Liberal candidate Georgina Downer slammed over 'novelty' taxpayer-funded cheque

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Liberal candidate Georgina Downer has been defended by a cabinet minister after being criticised for handing out a novelty cheque for a taxpayer-funded grant.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has been forced to defend Liberal candidate Georgina Downer after she was criticised for handing out a novelty cheque for a taxpayer-funded grant.

Ms Downer was pictured on social media handing out the prop cheque emblazoned with her image and name for more than $125,000 at a bowling in club in the electorate of Mayo, which she is contesting at the next election.

Liberal candidate Georgina Downer is under fire over the giant cheque of doner money.
Liberal candidate Georgina Downer is under fire over the giant cheque of doner money.
Twitter

"That type of self-promotional act is what members and candidates do right across the country all the time to help raise the awareness of the fact that they're working and fighting for their local community," Senator Birmingham told Sky News on Sunday.

"She's highlighting, quite rightly, commitments that our government has made."

Simon Birmingham, campaigning with Georgina Downer, says he did nothing wrong with a grant handover.
Simon Birmingham, campaigning with Georgina Downer, says he did nothing wrong with a grant handover.
AAP

Ms Downer, the daughter of former foreign minister Alexander Downer, was comprehensively beaten by Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie at July's by-election.

Despite the loss, she secured preselection to have another crack at the Adelaide seat at the federal election due in May.

Ms Sharkie said she had helped the bowling club with getting the grant, noting one member was aware of the cheque presentation before she notified the winners.

"In more than a decade of politics I've never seen a taxpayer-funded grant delivered by cheque with a candidate's face and name on it. Rather desperate and misleading," the crossbench MP tweeted.

Liberal candidate Georgina Downer with her father Alexander after she conceded defeat in Mayo.
Liberal candidate Georgina Downer with her father Alexander after she conceded defeat in Mayo.
AAP

Labor also criticised Ms Downer, with shadow treasurer Chris Bowen accusing the government of breaching protocol and fellow frontbencher Brendan O'Connor describing the move as shameless.

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