Bush fund stoush
Thursday, 25th October, 2018
By Michael Murphy
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party candidate Roy Butler took a swipe at The Nationals yesterday, saying they have the “keys to the Treasury” but had gutted regional Australia.
Mr Butler referred to figures in the NSW Auditor-General’s Report on State Finances released last Friday, but The Nationals say the figures don’t take into account funds “reserved” for regional projects.
The Restart NSW Fund Act 2011 requires the State Government to spend 30 per cent of the fund on rural infrastructure projects.
But Mr Butler said the NSW Auditor-General’s report revealed The Nationals had only spent 18.5 percent of the fund in country areas over the past six years.
“It’s crazy, you have got people out in regional NSW already behind the eight-ball, and The Nationals have the keys to the Treasury and here we are being gutted,” said Mr Butler, who is running for the seat of Barwon at the upcoming state election.
“The Nationals can’t act without the permission of the Liberal government.”
But a spokesperson for Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the Auditor-General’s Office reports on a snapshot of current payments made to councils and NGOs to deliver projects, and did not take into account projects that have had funding reserved for future development.
“This means that regional NSW has funding set aside for when councils and NGOs have the capacity to start construction,” the spokesperson said.
“It is incorrect to say that ‘rural infrastructure only received half the funding it is supposed to have during the six years prior to 30 June 2018’.
“This fund was established by the NSW Liberals and Nationals Government and designed to benefit NSW with specific reference to regional NSW.
“This fund was opposed by the NSW Labor Party and the Shooters Party.”
The spokesperson said apart from the Restart NSW Fund, the Nationals Party had also secured $4.2 billion for regional NSW under the Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund, and $1.3 billion through Regional Growth Fund.