Feds blasted over regional funding
THE Federal Government has been blasted after revelations a fund set up to help regional communities granted $ 480 million to Perth.
North Queensland-based Senator Ian Macdonald has accused the Federal Government of taking from regional communities to give to major cities.
Sen Macdonald said yesterday the government had allo- cated $ 480 million to Perth from its new $ 1 billion Regi onal Development Australia Fund which, unlike its forerunner, would fund projects in the capitals, ‘‘ diluting money set aside for regional projects’’.
The senator said the allocation was included in revamped regional development programs released late last week, confirming his fears North Queenslanders would lose out under the Gillard government scheme.
‘‘ The largest allocation – $ 480 million – has gone to Perth, West Australia’s capi- tal,’’ he said. The news has caused concern at city hall, with Deputy Mayor David Crisafulli saying council expected regional funds to be used to bolster the regions.
‘ ‘ I would hope r egional funds would be used to bolster the regions and not be allocated to capital cities, which have so many benefits bestowed on them,’’ he said.
‘‘ It is important that regional communities across Australia get a leg up.’’
Sen Macdonald said: ‘‘ The announcement is a huge letdown and shows Labor’s cont empt f or r egional Aust- ralians. People living in regional Australia, already reeling from the ever-rising living costs under Labor, are sick of having their pockets picked by this government.
‘‘ Unlike our city cousins, we have to pay freight costs on good that must be transported long distances.
‘‘ The Gillard government, which is borrowing $ 120 million a day to pay for crazy schemes like the $ 50 billion NBN project, has again shown contempt for regional Australia by cutting back on vital regional funding programs.’’
Cr Crisafulli said the new fund’s forerunner, the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program, had delivered for Townsville including $ 16 million towards the Flinders St redevelopment, solar roofing for the c o u n c i l ’ s a d mi n i s t r a t i o n building to reduce recurrent costs, and footpaths across the city.
‘‘ It has been a great program in terms of funding great projects,’’ he said.
‘‘ Like all North Queenslanders, I have a passion that the region receive its fair share of funds, and not just a few crumbs.’’