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(l-r) Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis, Page MP Kevin Hogan and Clarence Valley Council mayor, Jim Simmons. Image: Contributed.

What our elected reps said about roundabout grant

Geoff Helisma |

 

In a November 25 story, ‘Questions-raised-over-roundabout-announcement’, the Independent, put two questions to Page MP Kevin Hogan, Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis and Clarence Valley Council mayor, Jim Simmons.

  • Can you please explain the rationale used to allocate the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery grant funding for a roundabout?
  • Can you tell the Independent’s readers which data was used to make the decision to allocate the money towards the roundabout?

At that time, only Mr Gulaptis had responded before the paper’s editorial deadline.

Speaking with the Independent, he said the bushfires had impacted CVC’s “normal budgetary spend throughout the region”.

“Council put in an application, and if the application met the criteria it is likely to succeed,” he said.

He said he wanted to “see more tourists” visiting Yamba, which leads to more “economic activity”.

“It’s a positive in my mind, there’s nothing incorrect in the process,” he said.

“While there was no direct [fire] impact on [Yamba] business houses, they were certainly supported by Job keeper and seeker, but for Covid, not necessarily bushfires.”

Mr Hogan responded in an email: “The Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund is jointly funded 50/50 by the federal and state governments.

“Local councils submit projects to the state government.

“It is the state government who administer the program and use their eligibility criteria to determine successful projects.

“We federally then co-fund the projects they have approved.”

Mayor Jim Simmons responded in an email: “The original REDS (Regional Economic Development Strategy) for the Clarence Valley highlighted a number of industries such as tourism, aged care and health care, government administration, marine manufacturing and horticulture, as core to the regional economy.

“The impact statement I have before me includes figures such as 80 per cent of forests fire damaged and approximately 80 per cent of yearly tourism revenue [was] lost due to fires and the evacuation period. 

“The document is a little confusing to me in that on page 6 it reports an estimated 50 per cent tourism downturn in December 2019, 25 per cent in January and February.

“The REDS identify tourism as a key investment area for the whole Clarence Valley but particularly the lower valley.

“It identified that the bushfires had a direct affect on tourism funding infrastructure.

“[The] Yamba roundabouts had a full business case and cost benefit developed for the original Building Better Regions funding, which in the end funded the Treelands and Carr’s Drive roundabouts, but also identified the Shores Drive roundabout.

“The business case for all of these was based on tourism access to Yamba. 

“The Bushfire Local Economy Fund is split into two $250 million allocations, jointly funded by the state and federal governments, who have to agree on any projects supported.

“For the first $250 million, the Department of Regional NSW [asked] for shovel ready projects that could commence in a matter of months.

“The Shores Drive roundabout had a full detailed design and was also identified as an optional extra, subject to funding, in the [contract] for the Treelands and Carr’s Drive roundabouts. 

“Hence, Shores Drive was put forward and has received funding, to be administered by the Department of Regional NSW on behalf of the two funding partners.”

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