Wodonga Council will lobby on, vows Wangman

WODONGA Council has vowed to keep fighting for support to complete its city centre redevelopment, despite its last hope of federal funding being quashed.

Mayor Rodney Wangman made the vow yesterday after Minister for Regional Development Warren Truss confirmed Wodonga would not be receiving the $5.8 million promised.

Cr Wangman’s disappointment was echoed by two MPs as the Wangaratta saleyards upgrade and the Rutherglen Main Street also went on the Regional Development Australia Fund chopping block.

All three projects were promised funds by Labor under round five of the fund, but just before the September 7 election the Coalition announced it would not fund uncontracted projects as there were no funds available.

On Tuesday, Mr Truss announced the government would now fund unsigned projects from rounds two, three and four, raising some hope for those in round five — but that hope was dashed yesterday.

Cr Wangman said he was disappointed but that it was “not the end of the line” for the work.

“This has been a project of significant change for Wodonga, some would say seismic change,” he said.

“The question I would ask the minister is to look even deeper and see if there’s any further funds to complete the applications of round five.

“Clearly they were supported by the previous government and the reasons and merits of why they were supported would be the same today as they were some months ago.”

Cr Wangman said the council would continue to advocate and lobby the federal government, the state government and other organisations.

Indi MP Cathy McGowan said she was deeply disappointed by decisions that would deprive communities of critical infrastructure upgrades.

Many of the projects had been in the pipeline for some time with a lot of groundwork already complete.

“Proposals to redevelop Wodonga’s downtown have been in the works since 1975, and successive governments have failed to support it,” she said.

“Wodonga had finally organised sufficient investment from state, federal and local sources, as well as private investment.

“These are serious projects with big implications for our towns and they should be above partisan politics.”

She dismissed suggestions that Indi was being punished for electing her as an independent.

“RDAF round five funded $150 million worth of infrastructure in more than 560 communities, including many with Liberal and National party representatives,” she said.

“It’s a national decision and is not targeted at Indi.”

Murray Valley MP Tim McCurdy said he, too, was “very disappointed, but not surprised”.

He had lobbied State Infrastructure Minister Peter Ryan about the Wangaratta saleyards.

Mr Ryan will be in Wodonga today and an announcement regarding the city centre is expected.

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