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The Times


Letter to the Editor - Hon Darren Chester MP - Stronger Communities Program

What could be fairer than a Federal Government grant program which offers $150,000 for every electorate each year for small community projects?

The Stronger Communities Program (SCP) was developed by the former Coalition Government and provided $175 million to more than 15,000 small projects across the nation.

The beauty of the program was local communities were able to decide their local priorities, and they leveraged their own fundraising money, with some direct support from the Federal Government.

The SCP was successful because it took pressure off local councils and community groups to do all of the heavy lifting for projects which made a real difference.

Bizarrely, the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Catherine King has failed to deliver money for future rounds of the program which was popular with Members of Parliament on both sides of the chamber.

The Minister’s own Department says on its website: “All Rounds of the SCP have been very successful, with a wide variety of projects funded including upgrades to community halls and clubhouses, equipment for both aged care and day care facilities, men's sheds and associated equipment, scoreboards, computers, inflatable rescue boats and disaster recovery generators.”

The program was so successful it’s been abandoned by Minister King.

Sadly, in the middle of a cost of living crisis, the pressure is going to fall on volunteers to raise more money and local governments to fund thousands of additional projects because this Minister thinks Canberra knows best, and she doesn’t trust local communities to make good decisions.


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