Regional plans put on hold as government baulks on development 

THE federal government has reaffirmed $342 million in funding towards about 300 regional projects but Ballarat MP Catherine King says communities will miss out.

The federal Coalition yesterday announced it would honour rounds two, three and four of the previous Labor government’s Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF) commitments.

These included more than $4 million towards a water delivery system for the Golden Plains Food Production and Employment Precinct in Lethbridge and $480,000 towards a family services and community hub in Meredith.

However Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said the government refused to proceed with rounds 5a and 5b of the RDAF, declaring they were “Labor election commitments and were not funded”.

Ms King said local communities across the Ballarat region had their hopes dashed on projects, which included an all-inclusive playground at Victoria Park in Ballarat, a proposed indoor swimming centre in Bacchus Marsh and a multi-purpose centre at Victoria Park in Daylesford.

“I welcome that the Abbott government has finally come to its senses by honouring Labor’s funding for two important job-creating projects in Golden Plains Shire, ending months of unnecessary uncertainty,” Ms King said.

“However, today’s announcement by Mr Truss also confirms that our community will still miss out on millions of dollars in important community infrastructure.

“Over $12 million of local funding announced in rounds 5a and 5b of the Regional Development Australia Fund is still facing the Abbott axe.

“These projects were fully funded in the May budget and deliver critical recreational, community and job-creating infrastructure for our region. 

“Refusing to release this much-needed funding into the community will deny our regions the economic shot in the arm they need to maintain local employment and create new jobs.”

The federal government funds the RDAF and Community Infrastructure Grants projects as part of its new Community Development Grants Program.

In a joint statement with Regional Development Assistant Minister Jamie Briggs, Mr Truss said many projects under the previous administration were ready to go but were left in limbo by Labor before the election.

“Through responsible management of the budget we have found additional funds for these uncontracted projects without a mining tax,” the statement said.

“The Australian government will fund the RDAF (rounds two, three and four) and CIG projects on the condition contracts are finalised within six months.”

gavin.mcgrath@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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