In Budget Estimates, the Coalition has called out the Albanese Government on its failure to deliver a $4.5 million election commitment to upgrade the Sebastopol Community Hub.
Departmental officials have confirmed in Estimates (on 23 May 2023) that the delivery of the election commitment, promised by Ballarat MP Catherine King in November 2021, is not guaranteed. Departmental Secretary Jim Betts said: ‘Any application will have to comply with guidelines and the processes described in those guidelines; you can’t give guarantees otherwise there would be no point in having a process …’
“Apart from failing to honour the former Coalition government’s funding decision by forcing the City of Ballarat to apply for federal funding, Catherine King has blatantly breached her election commitment to deliver $4.5 million,” Senator Henderson said.
“On 3 November 2021, Ms King promised that an ‘…Albanese Labor Government will invest $4.5 million to rebuild the Sebastopol Senior Citizens centre and deliver a new Sebastopol Community Hub.’ This was not conditional on any application for funding by council,” Senator Henderson said.
“Why is the City of Ballarat, which is delivering $4 million towards this $8.5 million project, now being forced to apply for federal funding under the Investing in our Communities Program which the government promised would be delivered, no ifs or buts.”
In a fact sheet about the grant program, the Albanese Government has conceded: “We will notify both successful and unsuccessful applicants of the outcome of their application. Grant agreement If your application is successful, we will enter into a grant agreement with you.”
“Labor has blatantly misled local user groups including the Sebastopol Senior Citizens, Ballarat Community Health and 1st Sebastopol Girl Guides. Ms King promised to deliver $4.5 million in funding; not promise to email a funding application form. Catherine King has shown she cannot be trusted. This is more evidence of a tricky, deceptive government which fails to put the community first,” Senator Henderson said.
Last week, Senator Henderson visited the hub with the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Bridget McKenzie.
“Labor has broken a myriad of promises on power bills, interest rates, mortgages and aged care nurses, and now community infrastructure. What’s particularly unimpressive is that the responsible minister is Catherine King herself, the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development & Local Government,” Senator McKenzie said.
“Given Labor has so delayed this project, I am also concerned the project will be hit by construction cost increases, driven by Labor’s skyhigh inflation rate,” Senator McKenzie said.
On 20 April 2022, Senator Henderson and Liberal candidate for Ballarat, Ben Green, announced that the Coalition government would deliver confirmed Commonwealth funding of $4.5 million for the Sebastopol Community Hub which Labor has failed to honour.