Neighbourhood funding slashed

THE State Government’s decision to axe the second round of the Fund My Neighbourhood (FMN) program has been met with widespread disapproval from local community members.

Treasurer Rob Lucas last Wednesday confirmed the government was discontinuing the $20 million second round of the program, in which community members voted for local projects they wished to see funded.

“This wasn’t good policy; this was a desperate, failed attempt by the former Labor Government at trying to get re-elected,” Mr Lucas told the Upper House of parliament during Question Time.

“It was a poor program, it was a poor use of resources and, when asked prior to the election, we unashamedly refused to give a commitment to wasting another $20 million on this particular program.”

Mr Lucas said the money saved would go towards other election commitments made by the Liberal Government.

The $20 million first round of the program resulted in 15 projects – with a total value of $982,948 – being funded in the Gawler Council area alone, after 37 local projects made it to the voting stage and 2856 votes were lodged for them.

Gawler Mayor Karen Redman said it was a shame the program was discontinued, as “the prospect of a second round of funding generated both creative discussion and excitement within our local community”.

“Council is aware of a range of community groups that were intending to submit ideas to round two,” she said.

“(These included) a lift proposed to be installed at the Gawler Visitor Information Centre, creating access to the currently under-utilised level one of this building for use as an art gallery; potential resurfacing of netball courts; custom equipment for gymnastics; and a home for the Gawler Veteran, Vintage and Classic Vehicle Club, to name a few.”

One group that was planning to enter the second round of FMN was the Wasleys Community Group, which is looking to redevelop the clubroom and bathroom facilities at Wasleys Recreation Reserve.

Chairperson Vickie Teague said the group needed to find $100,000 to double the funding it’s received from Light Regional Council to complete the project.

The group unsuccessfully entered the first round, with internet coverage issues in Wasleys hampering efforts to drum up votes for the project idea.

“As the (Wasleys) community gets bigger, we actually need grounds to be able to have community events on,” she said.

“We can’t use our oval without having toilet facilities and other rooms available – it’s absolutely vital for our community to have them.

“I see (FMN) as a way for the community to vote for something they need in their community.”

Member for Light Tony Piccolo said the axing of the program was “a slap in the face of local communities who had worked hard to deliver necessary and cost-effective projects for their neighbourhoods”.

“I would like Premier Marshall and Treasurer Lucas to come to Gawler and tell the 15 community groups, and all the local people who voted for them, that their projects were a waste of money and time,” Mr Piccolo said.

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Matteo Gagliardi joined The Bunyip in August 2016 with almost two years experience in regional print media, having previously worked at a community newspaper in Swan Hill, Victoria. Covering politics, local government and crime, Matteo likes to sink his teeth into hard-hitting issues, but also enjoys spending time getting to know the Gawler community. Matteo also has a passion for science, agriculture and the environment, and has previously worked as a media officer at the Australian Science Media Centre.

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