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Confusion grows as Abbott government still has no idea how it is spending $100 million in regional Australia



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JULIE COLLINS MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT SHADOW MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT SERVICES LABOR MEMBER FOR FRANKLIN

CONFUSION GROWS AS ABBOTT GOVERNMENT STILL HAS NO IDEA HOW IT IS SPENDING $100 MILLION IN REGIONAL AUSTRALIA

A fortnight after the Budget and the Abbott Government is still yet to reveal any details about how it will award almost $100 million in funding to regional Australia, despite beginning an announcement tour to fund projects in regional seats held by the Coalition.

The Abbott Government has released no information about how it will roll out the $45 million Stronger Communities fund or how projects will be selected for funding.

A report yesterday found the slush fund will deliver $27 million to Coalition seats, dwarfing the amount of money that will go to Labor and crossbench seats and raising serious questions regarding the process of allocating funds.

More worryingly, the Abbott Government has already begun announcing projects from a program that has no guidelines or process for funding.

Minister Briggs is yet to release any details about how a $5 million project was selected for funding under the Government’s “additional” $50 million for the Community Development Grants Programme found in the 2015-16 Budget.

This is the same Community Development Grants Programme that delivered 90 per cent of available funding to seats held by the Coalition.

The lack of information adds to a growing sense of chaos and confusion around the Abbott Government’s approach to funding in regional Australia.

Last week Joe Hockey couldn’t correctly identify the length of a pool in Darwin that had received $4.5 million in federal funding.

Rather than costing taxpayers nearly $100,000 per centimetre to extend the pool as the Treasurer wrongly claimed, the funding is actually costing $146,000 a centimetre to shorten it.

The Abbott Government’s hypocrisy was also on full display when it was revealed that $37 million of Victorian funding from the National Stronger Regions Fund went to projects in metropolitan electorates, despite the Coalition previously criticising the Labor Government for doing the same.

With unemployment in regional Australia at a twelve year high, regional and remote Australia doesn’t need a funding tour designed to shore up Coalition seats, it needs infrastructure that stacks up and provides the most benefit for communities.

It’s clear vital funding for regional Australia isn’t about improving communities, it’s about winning seats and saving Tony Abbott’s job.

TUESDAY, 26 MAY 2015

MEDIA CONTACT: LIAM CARSWELL 0438 469 119