Are regional stakeholders competing against metro areas that naturally have more resources to put together a stronger application more likely to receive funding?
Tens of millions of dollars in federal funding has been directed to Melbourne suburbs under a regional infrastructure fund as reported by Geelong Advertiser.
Analysis of approved projects shows that the National Stronger Regions Fund has bankrolled major developments in metropolitan areas.
More than $33 million has gone to suburbs in the Victorian capital, including $2.5m for a business and education hub in Sunshine, just 12km from the CBD.
Other grants have included $9m for an aquatic centre in Craigieburn and $5.5m for a town centre project in Melton.
It is a similar tale across the country, with $6 million directed towards infrastructure within 3km of the Brisbane CBD.
Geelong has received support for three projects through the first two rounds of funding, with a new aged care facility in Norlane receiving the bulk of the $7.47m directed to the city.
Application for the third round of funding has closed, with the next list of successful projects expected to be announced in coming months.
The Royal Geelong Yacht Club and Geelong City Bowls Club are among applicants from the region.
As part of our Fair Go campaign, the Geelong Advertiser is shining a spotlight on regional disadvantage as part of a co-ordinated Fair Go campaign with our sister papers across Australia.
A spokeswoman for Regional Capitals Australia said the list of approved projects had come as a shock.
“We strongly support the creation of regional funding because of the investment opportunity for infrastructure projects in regional capitals,” she said.
“However, after recipients from Round One were announced, we realised that regional stakeholders were competing against metro areas that naturally had more resources to put together a stronger application.”
“The NSRF is an example of the difficulty faced by regional Australia in funding infrastructure: lack of transparency and consistency.”
The spokeswoman said infrastructure was not consistently funded in Australia.
“Multiple levels of government handle soft and hard infrastructure under a plethora of different funding arrangements,” she said.
“The only predictable sources of funding for regional Australia are the Black Spot program and the Roads to Recovery program. To read more click here.
Regional funding will be discussed at The 3rd Australian Regional Development Conference; Participation and Progress which will be held in Canberra on 5 – 6 September 2016.
The conference explores opportunities for innovation in regional Australia. With its rich resources, diversity, and value, regional Australia is the catalyst for the future.
Addressing issues such as sustainable development, environmental sustainability, land use, community development, investment, agribusiness and innovation it is an opportunity not to be missed.
To register for the conference CLICK HERE.