Member for Barker Tony Pasin is calling for the Federal Labor Government to give clarity to organisations who have applied for Round six of the Building Better Regions Fund.
The new Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Catherine King MP, says she will redesign the grant program following the Labor Party’s election victory in May.
The Minister’s announcement leaves applicants who had been awaiting the outcome of Round six of the grant program scheduled for announcement in coming weeks, in limbo.
“The Coalition Government’s Building Better Regions fund has delivered competitive grants to the benefit of hundreds of local regional communities across the country over the five previous rounds of the program,” Mr Pasin said.
“Without this funding projects across the Murraylands and Mallee would not have been possible such as the Murray Bridge learning and innovation hub, the re-developed Murray Bridge Rowing Centre, the Murray Bridge Gold Club, Energising Bow Hill, or wharf upgrades at Sturt Reserve just to name a few.”
“Unsurprisingly, most of the funding has been spent in Coalition held seats because the Coalition overwhelmingly represents regional Australia. That’s what the ‘R’ stands for in BBRF – Regions,” Mr Pasin said.
Mr Pasin said Round six of the Building Better Regions Fund opened for applications in December last year and more than 30 organisations across Barker had spent considerable time and effort submitting applications for the funding.
“The Murray Bridge Regional Sports Stadium was one such project that has already benefited from $1.98 million under round five of the funding program and the council had applied for further funding under round six to complete stage two. This project is an incredibly important project to the Murraylands community and without a Federal funding stream, stage two the project now hangs in doubt,” Mr Pasin said.
“The project, and many others like it across rural and regional Australia, now hang in the balance because the newly elected Federal Labor Government has indicated they want to pull the $250 million that the Coalition made available for Round six of the Building Better Regions Fund,” Mr Pasin said.
“Applications take substantial time and effort to put together and require committed co-funding arrangements. Projects like the Murray Bridge Regional Sports Stadium are now expecting they will need to go back to the drawing board for funding given the Minister has put a spanner in the workings of this fund.”
“Rural and regional Australia have always been the driving force behind our economy, and this continues to be true as our Nation emerges from one of the worst economic shocks since the Great Depression. It’s deeply disappointing that the Federal Labor Government doesn’t appreciate this.” said Mr Pasin.
The Building Better Regions Fund has operated over five rounds with a total of $1.15 billion allocated by the Coalition Government to drive economic growth and build stronger regional communities into the future.
Grants of $20,000 to $10 million to cover 50% or more of eligible project costs were to be made available to incorporated not-for-profit, local government agencies.
Round six of the grant program opened in December 2021 and closed for applications in February 2022. $250 million was to be made available under Round six. Applications submitted were being assessed against the guidelines by the Department.
Media Contact: Charlotte Edmunds 8724 7730