LABOR’S BUDGET DISMISSES AND DELAYS VITAL PROJECTS IN WIDE BAY
It’s been five months since the election, and councils, community groups and road users in Wide Bay have all been treading water since then, patiently waiting for last night’s Budget to find out the fate of local projects, and all the while costs have been going up.
Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O’Brien said the Budget confirms funding is available for the Community Development Grants he secured from the former Liberal and Nationals Government, but local Building Better Regions Fund applications have been axed.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT GRANTS
After five months of being put on hold, there is some good news for local community, service, and sporting groups in receipt of Community Development Grants finally who now have some clarity about accessing their funding allocation.
Earlier this year I announced funding for a range of projects and the allocations will now be made available to the following organisations:
- $1.5 million for a two-bedroom expansion at Katie Rose Cottage Hospice, enabling it to provide more end-of-life care;
- $1.8 million for Gympie RSL for a new landmark Veterans Memorial at Normanby Park to honour the service and sacrifice of local veterans and defence personnel;
- $700,000 to improve disability access to the Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum so more people can view their incredible collection of medals and memorabilia; and
- $1.3 million to improve road safety around the Noosa Golf Club along the Cooroy-Noosa Road at Tewantin.
These organisations have been waiting since the May 2022 election to find out about the fate of their grants, and there is finally now a process by which they can apply for the funds that were already allocated to them in the March 2022 Liberal and Nationals Government’s Budget.
The funding allocation I secured for the long-awaited water storage project to boost agriculture in Maryborough has also been confirmed.
In 2019 I announced $18 million for an off-stream water storage project in Maryborough. While the closure of the Maryborough sugar mill caused unforeseen delays to the project, Sunwater, Canegrowers and Rural Funds Management have been working together in the time since and have made good progress on their proposal. They will now have six months to finalise contract negotiations with the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, and Regional Development.
The Government has wasted five months unnecessarily delaying these projects, and in that time, costs have skyrocketed but the grant allocations remain the same. The Government must expedite the funding contracts to enable these projects to proceed as soon as possible so they can deliver benefits to the community as soon as possible.
BUILDING BETTER REGIONS FUND
Labor’s first Budget takes the axe to the former Liberal and Nationals Government’s popular Building Better Regions Fund.
Applications for Round 6 of the fund closed in February and were under assessment by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development. Applications from St Vincent de Paul Noosaville, Noosa Council, Noosa Shire Arts and Crafts Association, Noosa Permaculture, Gympie Regional Council, Tin Can Bay Country Club, Maryborough Rifle Range and Pistol Club, Maryborough Military Aviation Museum, and Murgon’s Creative Country Association have all been axed in Labor’s 2022-23 Budget.
It is extremely disappointing and distressing for councils and community groups to now discover their applications have been scrapped, eight months after they were lodged in February this year.
The applications axed include:
- $2,075,500 for the Noosa District Sports Centre redevelopment;
- $150,000 to upgrade St Vincent de Paul Society’s Noosaville premises;
- $124,750 to build a shelter at the Cooroy Permaculture Gardens;
- $7.5 million for a new Gympie waste transfer station;
- $2,950,779 to provide reticulated sewerage to Southside;
- $50,000 to build Stage 1 of the Maryborough Military Aviation Museum; and
- $100,000 to upgrade the Maryborough Rifle and Pistol Club’s rifle range.
People put a lot of time and energy into preparing quality applications for a range of proposals throughout Wide Bay and to have them dismissed out of hand shows utter contempt by the Labor Government. These groups applied for the funds in good faith and the Government should have let the assessments proceed.
Instead, the Government has wasted eight months of departmental assessment before junking the applications, and the organisations will now have to wait for a new program to be developed, new guidelines to be released, and a new funding round to be opened, before they can do all their work again and lodge new applications to the new program if they wish to seek funding.