Parkes MP Mark Coulton has once again blasted the Federal Labor government in his weekly Barrier Truth column, this time for allegedly stalling funding for regional grants programs.
Labor’s Catherine King, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, points out the former government’s management of the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) was slammed by the National Audit Office for the way it was administered, and they don’t intend to replicate that.
Mr Coulton was in the last federal government and was also a panellist for Round Four of the BBRF, and so was instrumental in deciding which local organisations received grants.
A spokesperson for Minister King told the Truth its Growing Regions Program [which effectively replaces the BBRF] would provide new opportunities for regional communities to access funding support for infrastructure that aligns with regional priorities, through an open, competitive grants process.
Mr Coultan says, “Mr Minister for Transport has confirmed this week that she still hasn’t approved the funding guidelines, and I really question why that is.”
It is just five months since the new funding program was announced in the last budget.
“Rural and regional communities in the Parkes electorate rely on these programs and here we are 10 months after the election and five months after the Federal Budget without any funding,” says Mr Coulton.
“The Growing Regions Program will be open for proposals shortly,” said Minister King’s spokesperson, “and there will be plenty of time for organisations to provide applications.”
Mr Coulton says, “if the Labor Government is serious about looking after all Australians that includes people in the bush and those who live outside of capital cities. They need to take off their city blinkers and pay attention to the needs of our regions, and that means prioritising the funding programs these areas rely on.
“I call on the government to release the regional funding guidelines as soon as possible so that projects can get underway in the Parkes electorate,” said Mr Coulton.
Ms King’s spokesperson says, “given the significant problems highlighted in a report by the Australian National Audit Office into the former government’s management of the Building Better Regions program, we are committed to the delivery of regional programs that will support value for money projects and are based on transparent and merit-based processes, in line with public expectations.
“The Albanese Government is committed to developing Australia’s regions, including by delivering funding for projects that create jobs and unlock economic growth and productivity.”