Member for Barker Tony Pasin MP says the Labor Government has turned its back on communities in Barker in the 2023 Budget.


“Regional Australia is more than just a food and fibre bowl, it is home to millions of hard-working Australians who make a significant contribution to our economy, our national identity, our culture and way of life. At the heart of regions like Barker are tight knit communities who deserve respect and support,” Mr Pasin said.


“While the former Coalition Government focused heavily on local capacity building by targeting funding to grassroots community organisations and Local Government, the Labor Government is taking a highly centralised, ‘Canberra knows best’ attitude, a hallmark of Labor Ministers who don’t understand how small communities operate.”


In the 2023 Budget the Albanese Government has scrapped:


  • Regional Airport program – a competitive grants program that has delivered funding of more than $1 million across Barker in recent years to upgrade to airports at Loxton, Waikerie, Mount Gambier, Meningie, Renmark, Kingston SE and Tintinara.


  • Stronger Communities Program (SCP) – Since 2016 has provided grants of between $2,500 and $20,000 to community organisations and local governments for small capital projects that deliver social benefits for local communities. The SCP committed funding to over 15,000 community–based projects across Australia. Community led projects across Barker have shared in $1,200,000.


  • Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) – Across five rounds, the former Coalition Government provided $1.38 billion through nearly 1,300 projects to ensure our regions remain great places to live and visit, while helping support important regional industries create jobs.


  • Local Road and Community Infrastructure Program – $3.25 billion supported all Australian councils to deliver priority local road and community infrastructure projects in their region, creating jobs and long-lasting benefits for communities.


While scrapping important grant funding programs the Labor Government has also neglected to support local Government with any increase to the Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs). FAGs are provided directly to councils for general purpose and local roads.


The Albanese Government promised, prior to the 2022 Federal election, that Labor would: “focus on the long-term financial sustainability of Local Government through increases to grant allocations, including fair increases to Financial Assistance Grants”.


Instead, the 2023 Federal Budget saw Financial Assistance Grants cut as a percentage of tax revenue from 0.52% to 0.50% in stark contrast to councils’ long-term aim of achieving 1.0% of tax revenue.


“Many councils will be frustrated with the Federal Budget outcomes and will have no choice but to increase rates to provide the services expected of them by their communities,” Mr Pasin said.


“The Federal Labor Government has turned its back on our local communities and is ripping funding from grassroots organisations and local councils to pay for their strategy for a big, centralised government.”


Labor is investing in a new National Urban Policy to build better and bigger cities and suburbs with $200 million over two years in a new grant program called ‘Thriving Suburbs Program’ and $150 million in ‘Urban Precincts and Partnerships Program’.


“It’s robbing country Peter to pay city Paul.”


“Labor simply don’t understand the regions and our small communities,” Mr Pasin said.


In contrast, the Coalition Government delivered funding for projects in the Limestone Coast such as,


  • Construction of Naracoorte District Men’s Shed, $20,000 from SPC
  • LED Scoreboard at McLaughlin Park Millicent, $18,000.00 from SPC
  • Kitchen upgrades at East Gambier Sportsmens Club, $20,000 from SPC
  • Donovan’s Community Centre, $100,000 from the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program
  • Coonawarra Rail Trail, $1.66 million funding from the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program
  • Mil Lel Hall and Community Hub ablution renovation project – $77,000 from BBRF
  • The Coonawarra Soldiers Memorial Community Hall project, $77,500 from BBRF
  • Millicent Basketball Stadium upgrades, $211,000 from BBRF
  • Mount Gambier Airport redevelopment, $3.5 million from BRBF


“With these funding programs scrapped, our local communities have lost an important funding pool for future projects that would have contributed to making the Limestone Coast a better place to live, work and raise a family,” said Mr Pasin.


Media Contact: Charlotte Edmunds 8724 7730