Local communities across Grey are set to be worse off under Labor as the recent Budget strips infrastructure funding streams designed to target regional communities.
Assistant Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Tony Pasin MP who joined Rowan Ramsey in Grey today said community groups and local councils had lost millions of dollars in future Federal Government investment as a result of the Labor Government’s cuts to infrastructure and regional development funding.
“Regional Australia is more than just a food, fibre and resources bowl, it is home to millions of hard-working Australians who make a significant contribution to our economy, our national identity, our culture and way of life. At the heart of our regions are tight knit communities who deserve respect and support,” Mr Pasin said.
“While the former Coalition Government focused heavily on local capacity building by targeting infrastructure funding to grassroots community organisations and Local Government, the Labor Government is taking a highly centralised, ‘Canberra knows best’ attitude, a hallmark of Labor Ministers who don’t understand how small communities operate.”
In the 2023 Budget the Albanese Government has scrapped:
Regional Airport program – a competitive grants program that has delivered funding of more than $5m to airports across Grey including Whyalla Airport which received $2.45m, Hawker which received $298,600 and Port Augusta Airport which received $320,000.
Stronger Communities Program (SCP) – Since 2016 has provided grants of between $2,500 and $20,000 to community organisations and local governments for small capital projects that deliver social benefits for local communities. The SCP committed funding to over 15,000 community–based projects across Australia. Community led projects across Grey have received $1.2m.
Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) – Across five rounds, the former Coalition Government provided $1.38 billion through nearly 1,300 projects to ensure our regions remain great places to live and visit, while helping support important regional industries create jobs.
Local Road and Community Infrastructure Program – $3.25 billion supported all Australian councils to deliver priority local road and community infrastructure projects in their region, creating jobs and long-lasting benefits for communities.
While scrapping important grant funding programs the Labor Government has also neglected to support local Government with any increase to the Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs). FAGs are provided directly to councils for general purpose and local roads.
The Albanese Government promised, prior to the 2022 Federal election, that Labor would: “focus on the long-term financial sustainability of Local Government through increases to grant allocations, including fair increases to Financial Assistance Grants”.
Instead, the 2023 Federal Budget saw Financial Assistance Grants cut as a percentage of tax revenue from 0.52% to 0.50% in stark contrast to councils’ long-term aim of achieving 1.0% of tax revenue.
Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey said many councils will be frustrated with the Federal Budget outcomes and will have no choice but to increase rates to provide the services expected of them by their communities.
“The Federal Labor Government has turned its back on our local communities and is ripping funding from grassroots organisations and local councils to pay for their strategy for a big, centralised government,” Mr Ramsey said.
Labor is investing in a new National Urban Policy to build better and bigger cities and suburbs with $200 million over two years in a new grant program called ‘Thriving Suburbs Program’ and $150 million in ‘Urban Precincts and Partnerships Program’.
“Labor simply doesn’t understand the regions, our small communities and the contribution we make to the national economy.”
In contrast, the Coalition Government delivered funding for projects in Grey such as,
- $1.58m for the new Balaklava swimming pool under Building better Regions Program
- $150,000 for the Whyalla Leisure Centre under the National Stronger Regions Fund
- $2.8m for Tumby Bay Stormwater Project under the Building Better Regions Fund.
- $4m to expand HeadSpace services in Port Lincoln
- Mobile Phone towers across EP including Puntabie, Cungena and Farm Beach.
- $3.29m to boost EP’s production potential under the Smart Farms funding stream.
“With these funding programs scrapped, our local communities have lost an important funding pool for future projects that would have boosted the social and economic fabric of community,” Mr Ramsey said.
Media Contact: Leonie Lloyd-Smith 08 86331744