Smaller towns have lost out to Labor’s political ambitions in the fight for funds for regional development projects, according to the Nationals Senator for Victoria, Bridget McKenzie.
She says the latest round of grants from the Regional Development Australia Fund shows a clear bias towards marginal Labor seats at the expense of regional towns and service centres.
“Out of $36.05 million allocated to development projects in Victoria, only 2.9 per cent will be spent in non-Labor electorates,” Senator McKenzie said.
“The Regional Development Fund is so skewed towards funding Labor’s survival that today’s Herald Sun newspaper reports that Mr Rob Oakeshott’s seat of Lyne in NSW gets $49 million.
“This is $2,95 million more than Regional Development Minister Simon Crean allocated to the whole of Victoria .
“But of course, Mr Oakeshott props up the minority Labor Government.”
Earlier this month, Minister Crean, announced $200 million in grants from the Regional Development Australia Fund.
In Victoria, the smallest grant of $1.05 million went to the Southern Grampians Shire Council for a playground and foreshore development at Lake Hamilton.
“The lion’s share of the $36.05 million distributed in Victoria went to regional cities in Labor seats, which shows that the Gillard Government regards regional development funding as just another political tool,” Senator McKenzie said.
“Going by the national media, this trend of Labor-held seats getting at least 70 per cent of regional development funds is replicated right across Australia.
“You would expect any Federal Government to play by the rules in such a sensitive area as regional development, particularly after the battering that the regions have endured from fire and floods in recent years.”
Senator McKenzie has urged Local government and not-for-profit organisation to alert her office to any applications in the pipeline for RDAF projects, so that she can lobby the appropriate Minister in Canberra.