The future of projects across Melton and Moorabool valued at more than $8 million is under threat, with the Abbott government refusing to guarantee funding allocated by the previous Labor regime.
Melton council chief executive Kelvin Tori and Moorabool CEO Rob Croxford are still waiting for confirmation on whether nine projects selected by the councils will go ahead, after Infrastructure and Regional Development Minister Warren Truss confirmed Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF) allocations made by the previous government would be reassessed.
“The government will continue to deliver funding to RDAF projects that are under contract,” Mr Truss said.
“However, non-contracted announcements made by the Labor government have the status of election promises and do not bind an alternative government.”
Projects at risk include the $200,000 relocation of Combined Churches Caring Melton’s food bank, which specialises in emergency services.
The food bank needs to relocate to a permanent site due to the redevelopment of its current council-owned building.
Combined Churches chief executive Denise Morris told a council meeting the organisation needed financial support to be able to move. “We need to ensure this program keeps going,’’ she said. ‘We started for the right reasons – there was a need for it, there was a service gap; we met that gap.”
A further $739,118 of RDAF money was allocated for the construction of regional tennis courts at Caroline Springs.
‘‘At best, these projects will be delayed and at worst they will be at risk,” Mr Tori said.
Seven projects in Moorabool were funded under the RDAF, including the long-awaited Bacchus Marsh Indoor Aquatic Centre.
Other projects included upgrades at Maddingley Park, Gordon Tennis Club and Ballan Recreation Reserve.
“[Moorabool] council is waiting for Mr Truss to announce the results of his review of the applications in order to determine if the projects will have the necessary funding to proceed,” Mr Croxford said.
Gorton Labor MP Brendan O’Connor accused the government of treating the outer-west with contempt.
“When we were in government, we delivered a record level of funding for local community projects, parks and libraries in Melton, including the $20 million Melton Library and Learning Hub. I call on the Liberal government to immediately commit to funding these important community projects.”