Two weeks before the Labor Government hands down its third budget, regional communities are still waiting on funding promises announced in the Government’s first budget in 2022.

Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines has questioned the Federal Government’s delayin delivering funding to regional Australia, saying regional communities deserve better.

“The Government announced $1 billion across the Growing Regions Program and Regional Precincts and Partnerships Program in October 2022, but now 18 months later no money has actually been delivered to our communities,” Dr Haines said.

“I welcome due diligence and careful, fair consideration in the assessment of applications, but this process is taking too long. These funds are vital to deliver housing, health precincts and other infrastructure for regional Australia and we can’t keep endlessly waiting.

“The Labor Government is preparing to deliver its third budget on May 14, yet they have not delivered much needed funding for regional communities that they committed to in their first budget.”

The Growing Regions Program was established to provide new opportunities for regional local councils and not-for-profit organisations through an annual competitive grants process, while the Regional Precincts and Partnerships Program was a new funding scheme for larger-scale place making projects that benefit regional communities.

“When I meet with organisations across Indi, and I hear they need funding for upgrades and developments that will help our communities thrive, I advise them to apply for these programs,” Dr Haines said.

“Applicants spend much time preparing their submissions and then are left waiting for many monthsto find out whether they have been successful. This creates uncertainty and is a handbrake on regional planning.

“Communities are feeling the pinch of a cost-of-living crisis and a housing crisis. Investments from grants programs boost local economies and accelerate much needed infrastructure projects.”

Another grant program that is yet to deliver promised funding is the Housing Support Program.

“Following my meeting with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in August last year, he announced the Housing Support Program, a $500 million funding program for local governments to invest in the critical infrastructure that enables housing developments to get started,” Dr Haines said.

“This program only opened for applications in March and is critical to addressing the regional housing supply crisis. We must see money flow from this program soon.

“It is not simply enough to make big announcements. Governments are expected to deliver on their promises.”

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