Councils keep fighting for regional funding

ALBURY and other Riverina councils are refusing to let the federal Coalition government off the hook on Regional Development Australia funding committed by its Labor predecessors.

Member for Farrer, Sussan Ley, attended the Riverina and Murray Regional Organisation of Council’s quarterly meeting at Jerilderie yesterday when the 18 member councils presented a united front on calling for more than $4 million to be delivered.

Under round five announced almost three months before the September 7 federal election, Labor allocated funding to local councils across the country for community projects.

Albury earmarked its $490,000 for the upgrade of Griffith Road in Lavington. Corowa ($290,000), Greater Hume ($300,000), Berrigan ($290,000), Urana ($120,000), Lockhart ($190,000) and Jerilderie ($130,000) are also in danger of missing out after Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss announced after the election that projects which weren’t under contract wouldn’t be honoured.

The organisation’s executive officer Ray Stubbs said the member councils wanted to turn the heat up on the government.

“This all happened well before the caretaker period kicked in,” Mr Stubbs said.

“The former government announced it, the councils responded and projects were being ticked off.

“In our view that represented a contractual situation which should be honoured.”

Mr Stubbs said member councils were providing matching funding for the nominated projects which brought their total to more than $8 million.

“We were pursuing the previous government fairly strongly to devise their funding so local councils could do local projects,” he said.

The organisation is already formulating a submission to Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Mr Truss on the issue.

Ms Ley said the organisation had every right to be disappointed by the previous government.

“Mr Truss has said worthy projects put forward in round five can be reconsidered,” she said.

“As I stated during the election campaign, if the money and each of these projects was actually finalised, approved and fully funded then Labor had the opportunity to announce them which, in Farrer at least, they chose not to do so.

“I’ll certainly be taking the views of our local councils to Canberra when Parliament resumes next week.”

Meanwhile, Jerilderie mayor Terry Hogan was re-elected as organisation chairman unopposed.

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