Wimmera councils miss out on $1.8 million for priority projects

WIMMERA councils will miss out on more than $1.8 million promised by the former Federal Government for priority projects.

Horsham Rural City Council received a letter from Minister for Infrastructure Warren Truss on Monday night, stating the Coalition government would not fund projects announced by the former government in round five of the Regional Development Australia Fund.

“These projects were election commitments of the former government announced during the election campaign or just before,” the letter said.

“They were to be funded by the Minerals Resource Rent Tax, but because the tax did not raise significant funds these projects were unfunded.”

Horsham Rural City was promised $361,911, which was to be used to upgrade Horsham War Memorial Pool and air-conditioning at the Mibus Centre.

Hindmarsh Shire Council will miss out on $251,663 and Ararat Rural City Council $318,186.

Northern Grampians Shire Council was set to receive $364,059, Yarriambiack Shire Council $280,632 and West Wimmera $280,858. 

Horsham Mayor David Grimble said the letter did not come as a surprise. 

“We anticipated that would be the case and we’re disappointed about it,” he said. 

“Unfortunately what will be, will be.”

Cr Grimble said both projects were strong priorities for council.

“Council will try to allocate some funding to do some of those works in a smaller way, particularly the pool,” he said.

“It’s had solid support from the community and rightly so – it’s a great asset and we should be upgrading it.”

Cr Heather Phillips said she was frustrated by the Coalition’s decision not to honour the funding commitment.

“The government really does mess us around when they dangle some money in front of us and get council officers to put in a lot of work to prepare grant applications and proposals – and then they simply pull the rug out from under us,” she said.

“So thank you, government.”

Mr Truss said the Federal Government was committed to establishing a new National Stronger Regions Fund from 2015.

“The new fund will support priority infrastructure in regional Australia and might be a source of funding for projects not funded in rounds five and five B of the Regional Development Australia Fund,” it said.

Cr Grimble said council would continue to look into additional opportunities to fund the projects.

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