RURAL communities have been short-changed half of their owed state government infrastructure funding, an auditor-general report reveals.
Only 18.5 per cent of Restart NSW Fund payments have gone to country communities in the past six years, despite the Act requiring 30 per cent to be spent.
But, the Coalition maintains the rest is earmarked for future projects in regional NSW.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro was taken to task by Shooters, Fishers and Farmers MLC Robert Borsak who accused him of robbing rural communities.
“According to their own figures, over the last six years they have only spent half as much on rural infrastructure than they are supposed to,” Mr Borsak said.
“Rural people are angry that they are constantly being short-changed by a city-focused government, and this report proves their concerns to be the reality.”
The fund was opposed by the NSW Labor Party and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers when it was established.
It’s hypocritical to oppose the fund in one breath and demand faster payments in another, a spokesman for Deputy Premier John Barilaro said.
“Regional NSW will receive the full 30 per cent of proceeds it deserves and is legislated under the Restart NSW Fund Act 2011,” he said.
“The Auditor-General’s Office reports on a snapshot of current payments made to councils and non-government organisations to deliver projects and does 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 NGO’s have the capacity to start construction.”
So far the Restart NSW fund has seen $122.6 million invested into the New England North West region for 65 projects, with 225 works still underway.
It’s paid for the Tamworth Airport airside upgrade, the Northern Inland Centre for Sporting Excellence and the Manilla Water Supply System upgrade.