NSW Labor are demanding the NSW Liberals and NSW Nationals explain why funding for upgrades at Howlong Preschool were not forthcoming, despite strong support from the community.
The demands come days before from the second day of an Upper House inquiry that will examine the NSW Liberals and NSW Nationals systematic and deliberate rorting of public grants funds.
Residents of Federation Council were surveyed regarding what projects they would like to see funded as part of the $400 million Stronger Country Communities Fund – with Howlong Preschool receiving the most support.
The preschool sought about $330,000 worth of funding to: upgrade the centre’s capacity from 26 to 40; improve disability access; create a central administration and community room; and replace the bathroom and kitchen facilities.
The funding would have also helped deliver a multidisciplinary approach including access to: occupational therapists; speech therapists; early childhood workers and family support workers.
The three other projects that formed part of the survey – upgrades to community toilet blocks, improvements at Urana Caravan Park and the extension of the Corowa cycleway – all received funding, despite receiving less community support.
A Department of Premier and Cabinet document showed an analysis of the survey results found the cycleway extension would have “the least positive impact on the community”.
Shadow Minister for Local Government, Greg Warren, said the Howlong Preschool snub was one of many alarming revelations regarding the $400 million Stronger Country Communities Fund.
“The Stronger Country Communities Fund was nothing but a Liberal-National taxpayer-funded slush fund designed to buy the 2019 election,” Mr Warren said.
“At risk electorates like Cootamundra – held by the Nationals – received more grants than the total number in Labor, Greens and Shooters and Fishers electorates combined, while surveys like these in Federation were simply a waste of the community’s time.
“Why ask residents what projects they want funded if those wishes are ignored?
“The Liberals were clearly concerned with retaining the seat of Albury due to the retirement of a long-serving member so they decided the best way to win the seat was by giving money to people that were of voting age.
“The Member for Albury must demand his Liberal and National colleagues explain how such a farce was allowed to occur at the expense of Howlong Preschool.
“It was also revealed $20 million of the $400 million SCCF fund was spent on administration costs which is simply mind-boggling.
“This government couldn’t run a chook raffle.”
Day two of the Upper House inquiry into the Integrity, Efficacy and Value for Money of NSW Government Grant Programs, will be held on Friday, October 16, 2020.