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Feds slash country funding programs

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Chris OldfieldNaracoorte Community News

Member for Barker Tony Pasin has slammed the Albanese Government for axing the Building Better Regions funding program for country people and their organisations. Federal Infrastructure Minister Catherine King axed the program prior to the federal budget.

Mr Pasin explained about 30 organisations in his electorate have been waiting eight months regarding the fate of their application for round six of the program.

“Hundreds of organisations across the country, including more than 30 in Barker, have spent countless hours and expended significant sums preparing applications for round six of the Building Better Regions Fund,” he said.

“Applications to round six of the program closed in February, meaning that applicants have been waiting for more than eight months to learn the fate of their application.

“After months of uncertainty, the Government has now finally come clean about their intentions for round six.”

While the Government had announced a new program, applicants had to reapply all over again.

Mr Pasin said with building costs escalating close to 30 per cent over the eight months, projects might now no longer be viable.

“It’s an incredibly disrespectful way to treat our regional communities, it’s a real kick in the guts but hardly surprising,” he said.

“After all, the ALP are past masters of short changing country constituents in favour of those living in our cities.

“Rural and regional Australia have always been the driving force behind our economy, and this continues to be true as our nation emerges from one of the worst economic shocks since the Great Depression.”

Ms King highlighted two new regional programs in the 2022-23 October Budget, claiming they would be “more transparent”.

“The government is committing $1 billion in the Budget over three years to two new regional programs,” the Minister said.

“The Growing Regions Program will provide new opportunities for regional local councils and not-for-profit organisations through an annual open, competitive grants process.

“The regional Precincts and Partnerships Program will provide a strategic, nationally consistent mechanism for funding and coordinating larger-scale projects that transform a place, to benefit communities in regional cities and wider rural and regional Australia.

“The Government will not be proceeding with the Building Better Regions Fund round six,” Ms King said.

She claimed the Building Better Regions grants favoured National Party electorates “and were not awarded on the basis of merit, but on the basis of rules that were not made clear to all applicants”.

Ms King was also critical of the previous Coalition Government’s Community Development Grants program.

“We will close down the CDG program and no new projects will be funded from it,” she said.

Ms King claimed the Albanese Government “is committed to investing in partnership with regional communities”.

Naracoorte Community News 9 November 2022

This article appeared in the Naracoorte Community News.

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