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Tuesday, 25 November 2003
Page: 22863

Mr Gibbons asked Minister representing the Minister for the Arts and Sport, upon notice, on 18 September 2003:

(1) What Commonwealth funding has been allocated to the City of Greater Bendigo for development work on the (i) Bendigo Art Gallery, and (ii) Capital Theatre Bendigo.

(2) In what year was the money paid to the City of Greater Bendigo and for what purposes.

(3) Has the Commonwealth undertaken to pay the City of Greater Bendigo the $2 million originally promised for the development of the Bendigo Art Gallery; if so, when will this sum be paid.

Mr Williams (Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) —The Minister for the Arts and Sport has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1) to (3) The Australian Government was to provide $2 million to the Bendigo Art Gallery but when the Council advised that the money was not required for the Gallery it was, at their request, directed to the Bendigo Performing Arts Centre. To date, $500,000 has been paid to the Council under the terms of the Deed of Grant signed on 23 May 2001. The first payment of $200,000 was made on 24 May 2001 and the second payment of $300,000 was made on 5 July 2001. However, in May 2003, the Council advised that the project was to be abandoned due to significant escalation in costs. The Council requested that $1.5m of the grant be used to upgrade the existing Capital Theatre and $500,000 be put towards meeting costs associated with the abandoned project. The Council has been advised that it can use $1.5m of the grant to upgrade the existing theatre. However a decision on contributing to costs of the former project will not be made until advice is received on the Victorian State Government's willingness to also contribute to those costs as it was a partner in the project. The Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, in consultation with the Bendigo City Council, is now preparing a new grant deed in relation to the upgrade of the existing theatre. Payments will be made in accordance with the agreed schedule of works. An initial payment will be made within 28 days of the Date of the Deed and it is anticipated that the greater part of the funds will be paid before the end of the 2003-04 financial year. Subject to work progressing in accordance with the schedule, all payments will be finalised by July 2004.