Nov 11, 2013

Truss must honour infrastructure grants

Local Government across Australia is being denied about $150 million in Commonwealth funding because of the Abbott Government’s political bloody-mindedness.

After being elected on September 7 the government froze payments of infrastructure grants allocated in July from the Regional Development Australia Fund.

Two months later the grants, designed to create economic activity and jobs while also providing community facilities like roads and bikeways, have still not been honoured.

It is pleasing to see that on Sunday, Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb had the commonsense clear the way for payment of 89 grants to tourism operators which had also been left in limbo despite having been approved and funded in July.

But Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss is continuing to stand in the way of the RDAF Round 5 grants, which ranged in value between $30,000 and more than $2 million.

This is about job creation and economic activity. It should not be about politics.

There is no reason to delay these grants beyond political bloody-mindedness. They were awarded under proper procedures and were fully funded in the 2013-14 Budget.

After I raised these issues last week, at least Mr Robb was prepared to listen and be sensible.

Mr Truss should wake up and remember this $150 million will make a real difference to job-creation in every community in the country.

NOTE: A full list of the RDAF Round 5 grants in limbo is attached.