September 9, 2013
South Burnett Mayor Wayne Kratzmann has promised to fight tooth and nail to save the recently announced Rail Trail between Murgon to Kingaroy following the revelation that promised funding for the project may have evaporated with Saturday’s change of Federal Government.
The project, announced on August 30, was to be developed with $546,234 funding from the Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF).
At the time the then-Federal Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon assured Mayor Kratzmann the future of the project was not dependent on the outcome of the Federal Election.
However two days earlier, when quizzed by journalists after a speech at the National Press Club, Member for Wide Bay Warren Truss had warned the Coalition would only honour “signed contracts” under the RDAF.
“If there haven’t been contracts signed then they are just Labor party election promises,” the Australian Financial Review reported on the same day as the South Burnett project was announced.
Last Friday, after the penny dropped that up to $150 million worth of Council projects around Australia could be left unfunded if the Coalition gained power, the Australian Local Government Association called on whoever won the election to honour all funding commitments made under the scheme.
But Member for Maranoa Bruce Scott also confirmed to southburnett.com.au on Friday that only projects where a contract had been signed would be funded.
“If there has been a contract signed it will certainly be honoured,” he said.
He said the problem was that the RDAF itself was “unfunded”. The money for the scheme was supposed to come from the Mining Tax but the large amounts of cash expected to flow from this never eventuated.
Mr Scott said the $200 million-a-year funding available under the Coalition’s new “National Stronger Regions Fund” would assist local projects and was “funded”.
Although each project would require a 50 per cent matching contribution from the proponent, this component could be “in kind”, such as the value of the land or the input from the Council, Mr Scott said.
Mayor Kratzmann said today no contracts had been signed for the South Burnett Rail Trail project.
However, he said he would be lobbying the three local LNP members – Warren Truss (Wide Bay), Ken O’Dowd (Flynn) and Bruce Scott (Maranoa) – to make sure the money came from somewhere to make the Rail Trail a reality.
Mayor Kratzmann said he believed the project would go ahead, even if the funding scheme had a different name, as it was too important for the area to be allowed to fail.