NO WAY: John Barilaro lashed out at accusations Regional Cultural Fund grants such as the $7.6 million for Grafton Regional Gallery were pork-barrelling. The Deputy Premier was in Grafton with Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis to unveil a $1 million seedling investment at the Forestry Corporation Nursery at Trenayr. 

Picture: Tim Jarrett
NO WAY: John Barilaro lashed out at accusations Regional Cultural Fund grants such as the $7.6 million for Grafton Regional Gallery were pork-barrelling. The Deputy Premier was in Grafton with Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis to unveil a $1 million seedling investment at the Forestry Corporation Nursery at Trenayr. Picture: Tim Jarrett

Nationals make impassioned defence of arts grant spending

THE Deputy Premier has launched an impassioned defence of the handling of a regional arts scheme which resulted in a huge investment in Grafton.

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro, in town this week to announce a huge forestry investment, has cast aside "critics" of the Regional Cultural Fund grants which were handed out in 2018.

The scheme awarded $7.6 to the Grafton Regional Gallery and Mr Barilaro said it was announcements like that which would stick with him.

"They never thought they would receive such an investment," he said.

"It is not always about the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney."

 

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Mr Barilaro said before the scheme there were no regional arts and culture funds and he was proud to have delivered it.

"I make no apologies for making those decisions on where that investment should go," he said.

"Those critics will criticise, they criticise us (when) we don't spend enough in the bush.

"I'll never say sorry and if they want to call it pork barrelling, I call it getting our fair share and I am prepared to wear what comes with it."

Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis was equally passionate about the scheme and said the program was for regional areas, most of which was located in Coalition or minor party seats.

"You have to remember that NSW is not Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong and this is the regional growth fund.

It is about spending money in the regions, money that had never been spent there in decades.

"Now when we get a chance to receive some of the benefits of a good government we are being criticised for pork barrelling."



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