Funds promised to clubs by the deposed Liberal and National Government through the Federal Community Development Grants program could be in doubt following the Morrison Government’s election loss.
The Community Development Grants Program, which originated from commitments made by the then Opposition in the lead-up to the 2013 Federal election, provides funding to construct and upgrade facilities to provide long-term improvements in social and economic viability of local communities.
Prior to the election result, Anthony Albanese said Labor’s budget costings would include slashing uncommitted funding in the Community Development Grants Program by $350m and abolishing the $400m Regionalisation Fund.
“We’ll target the waste and rorts in the Morrison government’s budget,” he told the National Press Club in Canberra in the week leading up to the election. “These two decisions alone will repair the budget by three-quarters of a billion dollars.”
The Federal Government’s CDGP is currently administered by the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Communications.
The department assesses applications against eligibility criteria and against the assessment criteria including an overall consideration of value with relevant money.
“During an election campaign candidates may undertake to provide certain funding, services or facilities if their party is elected or re-elected to government. Election commitments are often implemented through a grant. All grants are required to be awarded through processes that comply with the Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines (CGRGs),” its website states.
“The CDGP was selected for audit due to Parliamentary interest in the award of program funding, including compliance with the CGRGs and the proposed benefits from projects that have been awarded funding. The objective of the audit was to examine the design and conduct of the award of funding under the CDGP.”
One such grant at risk is Noosa Golf Club’s $2.6m car park and course upgrade. The upgrade was supposed to be jointly funded by the Club and a $1.3 million promise of support by the former Liberal-National Government through the Community Development Grants program.
“The Noosa Golf Club has a growing membership and it’s a valuable community venue for local not-for-profit organisations, however, the course is ageing and needs to be rebuilt, and the existing car park is inadequate and forces people to park on the busy Cooroy-Noosa Road,” Wide Bay Federal MP Llew O’Brien said of his promise before he was re-elected but his government was ousted.
The promised grant also meant the club could further develop programs associated with junior clinics along with adult clinics, particularly for women, and the course upgrade meant the potential to attract state or national golf competitions.
“The committee and members are very excited to have the Federal Government support and to partner with us in this very important project,” Noosa Golf Club general manager Allan Harris said at the time of the promise.
Attempts to contact Mr Harris and Mr O’Brien to confirm the status of the grant were unsuccessful.
Other recent CDGP commitments by the former Coalition government include $12.5m for a Manly Sea Eagles’ Centre of Excellence and $15m for a Hawthorn Football Club community centre, not that the club is struggling, apart from on the AFL ladder.
The club recently reaped $85 million from the sale of its WestWaters Hotel & Entertainment Complex in Melbourne which was acquired by Sydney-based Oscars Hotel Group, owned and operated by brothers Bill and Mario Gravanis, which recently paid $52 million for Casino Canberra.