INFRASTRUCTURE projects for Indi and Farrer valued at more than $7 million are set to be scrapped — including Wodonga’s $5.6 million city centre revamp.
And adding insult to injury, councils can expect to wait more than a year to reapply for funding.
Regional Development Minister Warren Truss last week confirmed projects under the Regional Development Australia fund without signed contracts would not be built.
It is believed Labor’s projects before last month’s federal election — Wodonga city centre’s redevelopment, $490,000 to upgrade Lavington’s business district, $300,000 to rejuvenate Rutherglen’s Main Street and more than $400,000 to upgrade Wangaratta’s saleyards — all fall into this category.
At the time, former regional development minister Catherine King said there was a budget for the projects and they would be delivered, regardless of the election outcome.
But the Coalition has scrapped the $2.4 billion fund and replaced it with a $200 million a year National Stronger Regions Fund, with grants of $20,000 to $10 million, to meet up to half the cost of projects. The fund won’t start until 2015.
Indi MP Cathy McGowan has already asked Mr Truss for a meeting to state her case, while Farrer MP Sussan Ley said she, too, would meet councils to discuss projects and funding options.
Mr Truss last week said Labor had promised $92 million for projects up until 2018 with all but $35 million allocated.
But he said the mining tax was to fund Labor’s projects and “as you know we are committed to abolishing this tax”.
“The projects are therefore unfunded,” he said.
While the government would honour all signed contracts, “non-contracted announcements made by Labor fall into the remit of election promises”.
“We will honour all of our own promises but we do not feel committed to the promises made by our opponents,” he said.
Mr Truss’ office did not respond to The Border Mail’s questions yesterday.
Ms Ley yesterday stood by her comments before the election that Labor had duped the electorate by “highly politicising these items”.
“They weren’t approved by the previous government, or were previously declined, and they were never going to have to deliver on them,” she said.
But she said while the government would be cautious as it dealt with the national debt, Farrer had many good projects that deserved funding.
She said she would attend next month’s Riverina and Murray Regional Organisation of Councils meeting to discuss project and funding options.
Asked whether she believed the new $200 million fund would be adequate, Ms Ley said: “Having not received any money for the electorate under the old fund, I look forward to more projects under the new one.”
Ms McGowan said she was already seeking meetings with Mr Truss to discuss Indi funding and she would “absolutely push” for projects.
“I’ll be very competitive looking for funding.”
Other councils to lose out are Corowa ($290,000), Greater Hume ($300,000), Berrigan ($290,000), Urana ($120,000), Lockhart ($190,000) and Jerilderie ($130,000).