Funds slated for mine-impacted councils diverted elsewhere

COUNCILS impacted by the mining industry are missing out on millions of dollars in funding as money initially earmarked for them by the Newman government is doled out to other councils across the state.

As part of its First 100 Days Action Plan, the Newman government established the $495 million Royalties for the Regions program for 14 regional councils to improve infrastructure and services strained by the mining boom.

Local Government Minister David Crisafulli went so far as to say funds would only go to communities at the heart of the state's mining boom.

But with round four opening this week, at least two of the original 14 councils are not as hopeful their applications will be given the tick of approval they once were.

Mackay Regional Council Mayor Deirdre Comerford said as the program had gradually opened up to councils state-wide, it had diluted its potential to help regions impacted by mining industries.

She said she understood all councils needed funding, but added the name of the program "said it all".

Mackay Regional Council has joined forces with Isaac Regional Council and Whitsunday Regional Council when making its applications, to produce a stronger applications with a "regional approach".

Although Isaac alone supplies Queensland with about half of all coal produced, it has only received $1 million in funding.

State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Minister Jeff Seeney argued Isaac could have received $10 million more if it had agreed to partner with the government in the development of a new estate.

Mr Seeney said R4R was modified in line with the government's new strategy, funding projects driving economic development in regional communities, as well as making communities more attractive to live, work and do business.

"In addition, we have opened up the opportunity for local councils and community groups to draw on the expertise of a range of broader government agencies in ensuring government is investing in the right sort of projects for their regions," he said.

But Rockhampton Regional Council's attempts to secure R4R funding for a project aimed at attracting mining contractors and other industrial businesses, the Gracemere Industrial Area, has failed.

"We're very disappointed, they really fitted the criteria, " Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow said.

Rockhampton has received only $1 million for a water pipeline project in Gracemere and Gladstone Regional Council has received no funding.

Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mulherin has previously smashed the program for "betraying mining regions".

- APN NEWSDESK


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