Labor MPs claim rural and regional areas are missing out on Commonwealth grants that are instead going to city projects such as the North Sydney Pool.
Member for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain made the claim after a national audit revealed more than half of the Federal Government’s ‘region’ grants since 2018 have gone to projects located in major cities.
Analysis released by the Australian National Audit Office showed 55 per cent of all regional grants announced by the Morrison-Joyce government have bolstered city-based projects, which Ms McBain says is “another blow for regional areas that had to deal with so much during this time”.
“It is frustrating to see that 3682 ‘regional’ grants went to major cities, compared to only 309 projects in areas classified as ‘remote’ or ‘very remote’,” she said.
“The fact is these grants are targeted at regional areas for a reason.
“The money and support should be flowing to regional communities like Adelong, Cooma, Braidwood and Bombala – not to Surry Hills.
“The Morrison-Joyce government talks a big game when it comes to regional development, but it’s clear to me that they continually favour projects based in the major cities – and this report proves it.
“Regional areas can’t continue to be left behind, this government needs to actually invest in them.”
The ANAO analysis also found that more than 40 per cent of all government grants awarded since 2018 were granted through a ‘closed non-competitive process’.
“One of those closed round tenders resulted in $10 million of regional and remote funding going to the North Sydney Pool,” Ms McBain said.
“The city project was put first despite pools across this region desperately needing upgrades which we’ve seen this through recent grant applications for Bega, Batlow and Khancoban pools.”
Member for Gilmore Fiona Phillips said that while she was pleased $1,575,686 was recently announced for the Ulladulla Harbour Boardwalk under round five of the Building Better Regions Fund, she says there are many more projects that need federal funding.
“There’s no way the money should be going to the city when we have so many good projects in Gilmore,” she said.
“The big one at the moment is the number of disaster resilience projects in the region that haven’t been funded.
“As we enter another bushfire season, that’s a worry,” Ms Phillips added.
She said every grant program available in Gilmore is “totally oversubscribed”.
“The demand is there from council and local organisations for things like shared pathways and infrastructure.
“The regional funding could build so many paths that are really important for families and people getting around on scooters and wheelchairs.”
The revelations from the ANAO follow a new analysis revealing that roughly 90 per cent of Building Better Regions round five grants went to Coalition held or targeted seats, and that Coalition backbenchers were given the opportunity to lobby for projects that didn’t meet the funding criteria.
“I would have loved to have been able to advocate for projects in Eden-Monaro because I know there are so many worthy projects here – but I wasn’t given this same opportunity,” Ms McBain said.