Regional funds going to metropolitan projects
MILLIONS of taxpayer dollars set aside for the Northern Rivers and other regional areas are going to cities such as Brisbane and Melbourne.
About 20% of the money from the first two rounds of the National Stronger Regions Fund has helped finance projects in major metropolitan areas.
The $1 billion five-year federal program was created to boost economic develop- ment in regional areas but ARM Newsdesk analysis has discovered that since the fund was launched last year, $95 million in the first two rounds of funding has gone to metropolitan areas across Australia.
Through our campaign, Fair Go for the Northern Rivers, The Northern Star is calling for the Federal Government to play by the program's rules.
NSW received about 32%, or $162 million, from the $505 million in the first two rounds of funding.
None of the funding allocated to NSW went to projects in Sydney, but this was not the case in other states.
In Queensland, about 10% of the state's allocated funding went to projects based in Brisbane.
Of the amount spent in regional areas in NSW, Ballina Shire Council received $850,000 for the marine rescue tower at Ballina.
Lismore City Council received about $2.8 million to create Lismore's new cultural precinct and Richmond Valley Council received $3.5 million for the Northern Rivers livestock exchange redevelopment.
Federal Minister for Regional Development Fiona Nash said the Stronger Regions Fund was an election promise the Coalition made in 2013 to strengthen economies in Australia's most disadvantaged communities.
She said more than three quarters of the projects funded in the first two rounds were outside of major city areas.
"Regional centres deserve the same attention as inner CBDs and outer suburbs, and they will receive this through the Government's Cities Agenda," she said.
Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has slammed the Stronger Regions Fund and said too much federal funding was going to infrastructure projects in the country's south, while the north was getting left behind.
The Regional Australia Institute recently released a report that said 31 of Australia's small cities, including Ballina-Lismore, outperformed the major cities' economic growth rate between 2002 and 2010 but received little attention.
The report said the Australian Government should establish a Small City Deals policy that brings all levels of government and stakeholders into one agreement to help drive development.
Senator Nash said this was not a new idea from RAI, but that their input was welcome.
NSW Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian said the government was working hard to ensure smaller cities were getting the attention they deserved.
- ARM NEWSDESK
WHO WANTS FUNDING?
Groups that have applied for NSRF funding in round three:
- Ballina Jockey Club: $4.7 million for the racecourse redevelopment
- Ballina Shire Council: $3 million for Airport Boulevard construction
- Ballina Shire Council: $5 million to upgrade pools
- Byron Shire Council: $2.4 million to construct Connecting to Byron project
- Byron Youth Service: $59,483 to construct covered outdoor garden stage
- Casino Returned Servicemen's Memorial Club Ltd: $480,000 to install shade structure over bowls green
- Friends of the Koala Inc: $78,028 to reconstruct the access road and new building
- Kyogle Council: $270,000 to refurbish Kyogle Memorial Institute Hall
- Kyogle Council: $1.8 million to upgrade Culmaran Creek Rd at Mallanganee
- Lismore City Council: $1.4 million for the Oakes Oval redevelopment project
- Southern Cross LADS Inc: $300,000 for regional driver education facility construction at Monaltrie