Saturday 4 February 2023
$4 billion in promised regional funds missing in Labor ‘black hole’
Regional and local communities are missing out on more than $4 billion in promised regional funding as the Albanese Government does a go slow on delivering community programs.
Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Senator Bridget McKenzie said economic development opportunities are going begging in our regional communities as councils are left to watch project costs blowout while Labor dithers and delays.
“Two words describe Labor’s disastrous start in the regional development portfolio: ‘cuts’ and ‘delays’.
“Community and regional programs have entered a funding black hole since Labor was elected.
“Not only have Labor failed to launch programs to deliver on their local election promises, they seem incompetent at rolling out regional grants programs which were locked and loaded before they came into Government, ready to be allocated shortly after the Minister took up her new office.
“It is now twelve months since 815 councils and community organisations applied for funding to deliver shovel-ready projects under the former Coalition Government’s Building Better Regions Program Round 6.
“Building Better Regions was scrapped by Labor in the October budget, alongside the Community Development Grants program, but so far no alternative funding opportunities been made available to replace them.
“The Opposition acknowledges the Government have said they will have new programs with refreshed protocols to replace Coalition programs, but after eight months in office neither the guidelines nor application timelines have been released, meaning money intended to be spent this year will not hit the ground to next financial year at the earliest.
“Councils need to plan and set their budgets and capital works programs and need certainty as to when funding programs will be available.
“It is past time the Albanese Government got its act together and released funding guidelines and timelines, enabling our councils and community organisations to start planning to deliver outcomes for their local communities.
“Local government representatives and community organisations are sick and tired of being left waiting in limbo by this Government.
“In addition to delays to new programs promised by Labor, councils have been forced to wait for months for any word as to whether funds allocated under phase 3 of the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure program will be forthcoming to provide job-creating local assets.
The Coalition understands the importance of supporting regions and community organisations which is why we invested so heavily in infrastructure, facilities and programs to enrich community spirit and drive opportunities.
“Our communities cannot afford to wait indefinitely while Labor works out how it wants to deliver local election promises and other initiatives intended to support our regions and suburbs.
“Labor must stop the cuts and delays to regional and local funding programs, release program guidelines and start trusting communities enough to work in partnership with them to create opportunities for everyone.