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Sportz upgrades funding confusion

By KUE DAVIS

UPGRADES to Sportz Central in Bray Street are in jeopardy, according to Nationals Federal Member for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker.

Under the previous Coalition Government, Sportz Central was granted $264,000 from the Regional Partnerships program to undergo major upgrades.

But, Mr Hartsuyker said, many local projects had now been advised that the approved funding was currently being reviewed and may not be honoured by the Rudd Government.

He is calling on the Minister for Regional Development, Anthony Albanese, to end uncertainty regarding the future of the Regional Partnerships and Sustainable Regions program.

"Given the Minister in the previous government signed off on this funding I believe the Rudd Government - as the new Australian Government - has an obligation to honour that offer and recognise the importance of these projects to the community," Mr Hartsuyker said.

Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Development and Northern Australia, Gary Gray, said the review was sparked after the auditor general exposed unprecedented government abuse of the Regional Partnerships program late last year.

"The Australian National Audit Office report found that the Transport and Regional Services Department and some Ministers had breached the Government's own financial management guidelines for $110 million worth of projects," Mr Gray said.

"The Howard Government made many promises and approved thousands of projects worth tens of millions of dollars and unfortunately, on many occasions, did not sign contracts and did not provide for its funding commitments.

"We're trying to make as much sense as possible of the confusion and deception created by the former government.

"It is incumbent on the Government to tackle seriously concerns about the expenditure of public monies - to do this properly requires a systematic and comprehensive approach, which will take time."

Sportz Central manager, Adrian Pickup, says extensions to the complex will be progressing, despite the current situation.

"We've not been told in concrete that we're not getting the funding, and at this stage, the extensions will be progressing," Mr Pickup said, adding that if the funding were to be revoked, Stage Two of the planned extension would be compromised.

"If we don't get the funding, we wouldn't be able to finish Stage Two - it would put a significant dint in the project," he said.



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