Albury gallery funding hopes raised

ALBURY Council has fresh hope in attracting state government funding for the $10.5 million art gallery redevelopment.

NSW now has a new Arts Minister after a cabinet re-shuffle announced by incoming Premier Mike Baird yesterday.

The O’Farrell government failed to match the $3.5 million the federal government and Albury Council each put up under the original funding deal two years ago.

The council lobbied former arts minister George Souris, but was left empty-handed.

Mr Souris has been replaced by Troy Grant, the National Party MP for Dubbo, who also picked up the responsibilities of racing, gaming and hospitality.

Member for Albury Greg Aplin, who is overseas, was again overlooked for a cabinet role.

He was non-committal about his prospects of becoming a minister after last week’s resignation of former premier Barry O’Farrell.

Mr Aplin was a shadow minister before the Coalition swept to office in 2011, but his chances of securing a ministry before the next election due next year now appear remote.

He returns to Albury tomorrow.

Mr Grant was a senior police officer before his election in 2011.

The amount required from Albury ratepayers for the art gallery project has doubled without the state government chipping in, but this could be less with a fund-raising group aiming to attract $1.05 million from philanthropic sources.

Mayor Kevin Mack last night said Mr Grant could expect a call regarding the art gallery, which is under construction and due to open in the middle of next year.

“We left no stone unturned with Mr Souris and I can’t see us doing any different with Mr Grant,” Cr Mack said.

The fate of local government reforms across the entire region will also be watched closely with the dumping of local government minister Don Page for Paul Toole, a former mayor of Bathurst.

Albury and Greater Hume councils are both resisting moves to have them merge.

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