THE Orange Regional Museum’s $4 million federal government grant could be in jeopardy, with incumbent member John Cobb unable to say if the Coalition will honour the commitment if elected on Saturday.
On the campaign trail, Mr Cobb is spruiking the Coalition’s bid to offer regional areas a share of $200 million for infrastructure each year.
But with a contract yet to be signed on the museum funding, pledged under the Labor government’s similar initiative the Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF), the uncertainty had several councillors concerned at Tuesday’s council meeting.
Cr Reg Kidd called for the council to ask Mr Cobb to ensure the museum funding was secure.
Deputy mayor Jeff Whitton said he understood why a new government would have to do due diligence on funds earmarked for projects, but hoped the commitment would be honoured.
“The museum project is very important to the people of Orange,” he said.
“A lot of people have worked for many years to get to this point with the museum.
“Council would like to see the future member of Calare be supportive of the funds allocated and fight on behalf of the community of Orange to ensure the museum gets those dollars.”
Mr Cobb said it was impossible to say if the museum’s funds were secured until the Coalition sees the contract.
“We’ll have a look at the project, where they’ve got to, and whether everything is okay,” he said.
“I know of one [RDAF project] where there have been issues surrounding whether it was on track and the ability of the proponent to fund it.”
“If they’ve got a signed contract as a responsible government we’ll check them.”
Contracts are still being finalised on the council’s museum grant, pledged under round four of the RDAF and contracts are yet to be signed on a further $356,349 round five RDAF grant the council has allocated to awning and lighting upgrades.
Mr Cobb says the Coalition’s alternative to the RDAF will mean more support for smaller communities, signalling a shift away from supporting larger regional cities like Orange.
“I’m very excited about this. It allows us to help particularly small towns that didn’t get a look in under Labor,” he said.
Nationals’ leader Warren Truss has said the Coalition will honour all RDAF contracts signed, but described unsigned pledges as Labor party election promises.
Orange City Council received $4.9 million towards the airport expansion from round two of the RDAF in June 2012.