COUNCIL has stepped up its fight to secure funding for the Griffith Regional Theatre after a $300,000 grant was retracted by the Coalition government.
General manager Brett Stonestreet, along with the mayor and general manager of Leeton Shire Council, met with federal member for Riverina Michael McCormack last Friday to lobby for the Regional Development Australia funding.
The grant, which would have allowed council to refurbish the seats and carpet in the theatre, was announced by then-minister for regional Australia Catherine King shortly before the election was called.
But with no contracts signed and work not begun, the Liberal government has refused to honour the funding grants – calling them an “election promise”.
Mr Stonestreet said every council in Australia had been promised an allocation, which they may not receive.
“Before the election, we had the funding agreement prepared and ready to go,” Mr Stonestreet said.
“But the government went into caretaker mode and was not authorised to sign it.”
Armed with their pre-prepared funding agreements, the heads of Leeton and Griffith councils appealed to Mr McCormack to find a way to secure the money.
“I know there are issues with the federal budget and they need to be acknowledged, but that’s not our problem,” Mr Stonestreet said.
“We are expecting the federal government to honour the commitment that was made.”
Mr McCormack said he had raised the issue with Nationals leader Warren Truss, though he was not confident the money would come through.
He “appreciated” last week’s meeting, including the manner with which the information was presented.
“I wish we could find the money to honour these projects but the money is simply not there,” Mr McCormack said.
“There’s always a case for lobbying and I’ve urged them to get any information they can for me.”