Helen Haines MP has welcomed funding of more than $9 million for local road and community infrastructure priorities in Indi, which will help local councils support jobs and businesses by delivering priority infrastructure and maintenance projects.

Funding allocations for Indi councils:

Alpine Shire Council   $710,300

Benalla Rural City Council  $975,055

Indigo Shire Council  $1,068,549

Mansfield Shire Council  $591,593

Murrindindi Shire Council  $1,083,272

Towong Shire Council  $1,166,232

Rural City of Wangaratta   $1,554,045

City of Wodonga  $541,081

Strathbogie Shire Council  $1,439,568

Total  $9,129,695

Last Wednesday in Parliament, Dr Haines met with the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack’s office to present a list of local shovel-ready infrastructure projects across the electorate where construction could start within 3-6 months. This list was compiled in collaboration with Indi local councils.

“After this very productive meeting, I’m pleased to see the Deputy Prime Minister has responded by boosting funding to local councils so they can start works on the projects, including those I advocated for,” Dr Haines said.

“These projects will create jobs, make our roads safer, encourage exercise and improve amenity and accessibility of our neighbourhoods.”

“This funding will go a long way in communities that battled the Black Summer bushfires and are now facing COVID-19.”

Last week Dr Haines also met with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to advocate for greater support for local small business, and to ask for more investment in tourism and transport infrastructure to stimulate the North East economy.

Under the Local Road and Community Infrastructure Program, from July 1, 2020, councils can apply for funding for road projects, such as bridges, road and footpath maintenance, traffic lights, and rest stations; and community infrastructure projects such as bicycle and walking paths, painting or improvements to community facilities, repairing and replacing fencing, and picnic shelters or barbeque facilities at community parks.

Dr Haines said the Indi infrastructure projects list she presented to the Deputy Prime Minister’s office totalled more than $70 million.

“This shows the scale of the need for investment in rural and regional Australia,” she said. “The government should take note, and increase its ongoing funding – not just in response to crisis, but to strengthen us every day.”

While the grants were very welcome, Dr Haines called on the government for transparency and to publish its criteria for allocating funding – particularly any consideration it has given to the compounding economic hardship resulting from the bushfires and now COVID-19.

“The recent ‘sports rorts’ saga is still fresh our minds,” she said. “We need to be assured that the program will address real need, not political imperatives”.

[May 22, 2020]

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