Aquatic project awaits funding

Local stakeholders are not concerned the Gippsland Aquatic Centre may miss out on the latest round of federal funding, despite its absence from the first release of successfully announced projects.

The Traralgon-based aquatic centre project was shortlisted along with two other Gippsland projects to progress to the next stage of the application process in round four of the Regional Development Australia Fund.

It is not yet known whether the project has been chosen to receive any funds from the $175 million pool.

The funded projects were expected to be made public on 12 July, but last week nine successful projects were announced, totalling $55 million.

Regional Development Australia Gippsland Committee chair Richard Elkington said he had complete confidence in the veracity of the assessment process and faith those on the panel would choose the projects based on their merit.

However, Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said the fund had been distorted to pay for city-based projects, and raised these concerns directly with Prime Minister Julia Gillard during a speech in parliament last week.

Mr Chester said $9 million had been allocated to the Western Indoor Sports Hub in the Prime Minister’s western Melbourne electorate and $4 million for the Sydney Multicultural Arts and Sport Precinct in a city electorate.

“My concern is that the Federal Government is spending money that has been earmarked for regional Australia in cities,” Mr Chester said.

“Regardless of the merit of these projects, they shouldn’t be funded when there are regional projects such as the Traralgon aquatic centre that are seeking funding.

“I’m very concerned that Gippsland projects may miss out at the expense of projects in Sydney and Melbourne.”

He said he had been given no indication as to when the remaining projects would be announced.