The Federal Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters MP, today expressed her outrage at the Federal Liberal Government’s decision to freeze indexation for Financial Assistance Grants, leaving the City of Greater Bendigo $2.7M worse off.
“I believe The Deputy Prime Minister and the National Party have been deliberately misleading in their handling of this issue. These grants are absolutely vital to our local councils and communities. Historically, and under Labor, these grants were increased each year in line with CPI.
“By freezing indexation of the Financial Assistance Grants, Mr Truss and the Federal Liberal Government have drastically reduced the amount of money councils have to spend on essential services.
“The fact is the City of Greater Bendigo, and other Central Victorian councils, are worse off now, under the Liberal National Government, than when Labor was in Government.
“This is simply outrageous and demonstrates the lack of support the Federal Liberal Government has for regional communities.
“These grant cuts - because that’s what they are - will put greater pressure on the rate-payers and could leave our councils unable to commit to long-term infrastructure.
“With the Council facing $2.7m in cuts over the next three years, I understand why it’s considering the long term budget implications of large capital works projects, such as the Kangaroo Flat aquatic centre.
“In my opinion the delivery of essential community services such as the Home and Community Care Program should take priority.
“I have previously written to the Minister and spoken in Parliament about the cuts to the existing grants program.
“I join our councils in calling on the Federal Liberal Government to restore the indexation of the Financial Assistance Grants, and I will continue to be a strong voice on this issue,” said Ms Chesters.