Labor Spokesperson for Regional Development and Infrastructure Stephen Jones has condemned today’s decision by the Abbott Government to axe $3.5 million budgeted by Labor for the upgrade of the Casino Regional Livestock Exchange.
Mr Jones says claims made by the Member for Page Kevin Hogan that the Casino saleyards project was unfunded are completely false.
“The $3.5 million for Richmond Valley Council to upgrade the exchange was fully budgeted by Labor under Round 5 of Regional Development Australia Fund grants”, said Jones.
“Without this crucial funding it’s likely the cattle yards will be forced to close, throwing locals out of work and sending farmers out of the area to sell their cattle.”
“The funding was intended to be about job creation and economic activity. It should not be about politics.”
“Former Member for Page Janelle Saffin fought hard to secure this dollar-for-dollar funding and there is absolutely no reason to delay these grants beyond political bloody-mindedness”, said Jones.
“They were awarded under proper procedures and were fully funded in the 2013-14 Budget.”
“The real truth of the matter, something Mr Hogan has even admitted today, is that he is unable to match this pledge.”
“This week we have seen Liberal backbencher Sharman Stone stand up against her own party on behalf of her electorate”, said Jones.
“Mr Hogan should do the same.”
“By refusing to release this money, Minister for Infrastructure Warren Truss and the Coalition are denying the local economy the support they need to maintain agricultural business and create new investment.”
“The Government needs to wake up and realise what a fundamental difference this $3.5 million will make for the Northern Rivers.”