The NSW Government has locked out the Member for Wollongong from providing any advice on the funding of local projects under the 99 year, Port Kembla Community Investment Fund, despite the area being in the heart of the Wollongong electorate.
Paul Scully MP wrote to the Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, John Barilaro MP, proposing that he, as the local elected Member of Parliament, should be permitted to provide advice on the funding of local projects under the Fund’s guidelines.
Guidelines allow for the Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra and South Coast to provide advice to the Evaluation Panel, which determines the allocation of funds for approved projects.
Parliamentary Secretary, Gareth Ward MP, wrote to Mr Scully on 17 May informing him that the Fund’s guidelines only allow for him to provide advice on the applications to the Evaluation Panel.
Mr Ward’s letter notes Mr Scully’s “ …passion and interest you have demonstrated in your community as the new Member for Wollongong. It is a laudable trait…”
Mr Scully has now directly approached the Evaluation Panel members proposing they exercise their right to seek external advice on project applications under section 7.3 of the Fund’s guidelines.
Applications for the second round of the Port Kembla Community Investment Fund close later this afternoon.
Comments attributable to Paul Scully MP:
“I’m disappointed that the Government would rather play politics with the Port Kembla Community Investment Fund than exercise some commonsense in making sure every dollar of the Fund is used to its maximum benefit.
“With all due respect to the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary, neither of them represents the Port Kembla community nor are they as familiar with the range of community organisations and their projects as I am, as the local elected MP.
“Similarly, neither of them would sit back and accept being locked out of an advisory process for a long-term funding program if it was based in an area in the electorates they represent.
“If they wouldn’t stand to be locked out of a process affecting their electorates, why would they expect me too?”