Why no cash?

Council CEO to seek answers on why rural city’s bid for pool funding failed again
VISION: An artist’s impression of what a new 50 metre pool would look like at the HP Barr Reserve.

PROPONENTS of North East infrastructure development projects which failed to win National Stronger Regions Fund grants in the Commonwealth program’s final round are to hear detailed assessments of their bids from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

A Rural City of Wangaratta spokesman confirmed on Friday that council chief executive Brendan McGrath would speak with the department this week about why the city’s application for $4.4 million to help fund a new 50-metre swimming pool and aquatic centre had been unsuccessful.

The Wangaratta Chronicle understands the city’s approach to the project – for which it had already secured a $1.5m contribution from the State Government and a $2m council commitment – was well-regarded by the department.

But it was not among the 67 successful bids to share in $126m of taxpayer funds announced by Regional Development Minister Fiona Nash on October 7.

The project’s failure to win government support pushed Cathy McGowan (MHR, Indi) in federal parliament last week to spur the government “to actually stand up for rural and regional Australia”.

“I want to put on record my enormous disappointment in the NSRF program and its failure to fund major infrastructure in my electorate,” Ms McGowan said in a speech in the Federation Chamber in Canberra last week.

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