New government may wipe out Clarence Valley's big projects

Government funding for the $1.016 million upgrade of the Grafton Airport is under threat after the Coalition was elected on Saturday.
Government funding for the $1.016 million upgrade of the Grafton Airport is under threat after the Coalition was elected on Saturday. Adam Hourigan

COALITION cuts to regional development funding place the renewal of McLachlan Park in Maclean and the Grafton Airport at risk.

Both projects fall in the Cowper electorate, retained by Nationals MP Luke Hartsuyker at Saturday's election.

Mr Hartsuyker characterised the projects as Labor election promises and said any project set to get money from the Regional Development Australia Fund and for which contracts had not been signed would be reviewed.

"It is clear that despite funding announcements from the Gillard/Rudd government, many projects were nothing more than election promises," Mr Hartsuyker said.

These cuts were not announced by the Coalition until it released its costings just more than 48 hours before the election. They went largely unreported in the media before voters went to polling booths.

The Maclean community was expecting to receive $500,000 under this funding scheme. On the table was upgrade of McLachlan Park, relocating State Government buildings to replace lost green space, and building a boardwalk along the riverfront.

The RDAF grant was to be paired with the funds the council gained from sealing the site for Maclean's new IGA supermarket. The upgrade of the Grafton Airport was expected to be worth $1.016 million.

Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson said he had made the Member for Cowper aware of just how important these projects were.

"The projects we are talking about have already been through a rigorous assessment process," Cr Williamson said.

But Mr Hartsuyker claimed the Coalition's position had been clear.

"If contracts have been signed between the government and the applicant, the Coalition will honour those contracts. If contracts have not been signed, the Coalition will review each project on a case by case basis."

Mr Hartsuyker said he looked forward to delivering good outcomes for the Valley, along with Page MP Kevin Hogan.

"The Nationals announced a $1 billion National Stronger Regions program during the election campaign and I will fight to ensure that our region gets its fair share."

Topics:  cowper grafton airport luke hartsuyker mclachlan park regional development australia fund

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