By Jackson Russell
Funding for the $41.4 million Macedon Ranges Regional Sports Precinct has been thrown a curve ball with the Federal Government delaying a commitment.
Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell has called on the government to commit $10 million to fund the completion.
The project has been jointly funded by Macedon Ranges Shire Council, $10.7 million; the State Government $11.6 million; and AFL Victoria $100,000; but has had to progress in stages due to lack of federal funding.
The precinct’s concept design was released by council last month and work on the first stage of construction will be able to proceed with the current funding.
After writing to Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Mr Mitchell said he received a response saying ‘not now’.
“The minister says he understands the significance of the project to the local community, but in the next breath says the council should just apply again later because there are no grants programs now open in his department,” Mr Mitchell said.
“It’s a bitter pill to swallow when the minister tells us his government ‘is committed to fast-tracking projects’ but then ignores this project. All the support it’s garnered and all the work that has already been done to get it up.”
Mr Mitchell said the government had already rejected the project for funding through the Building Better Regions Fund.
“It’s the biggest kick in the guts to all those who’ve already put their heart and soul into getting this project for our community,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Deputy Prime Minister said federal grants programs were highly competitive and 163 projects received funding through the latest round of the Building Better Regions Fund, which focused on drought-affected communities.
“Building Better Regions round four elicited 544 applications seeking more than $886 million; well in excess of the available round funding of $207 million. Unfortunately, this means not all projects could be funded,” the spokesperson said.
“Detailed feedback is offered to unsuccessful organisations on their applications, which may assist them to prepare for any future grant applications.
“While no regional grant programs are currently open for applications, proponents are encouraged to monitor the GrantConnect website for future opportunities.”
Council’s director of assets and operations Shane Walden said council unsuccessfully applied for funding through the third round of the Building Better Regions Fund and was ineligible for the latest round.
“Council understands there are always many more requests for federal funding for projects throughout the country than there is funding available,” he said.
“However, council continues to advocate strongly for funding for this important project and we continue to have conversations with various federal ministers and senators to ensure that our project is front of mind when the correct funding opportunity becomes available.
“Council officers are also continuing to monitor grant funding streams to ensure that all funding opportunities are identified.”