FEDERAL MP Warren Entsch has called for the immediate closure of Regional Development Australia, describing it as a “farce” that has provided no benefits whatsoever for the electorate of Leichhardt.
“The only funding that Regional Development Australia is generating for Far North Queensland is in the salaries of the bureaucracy,” Mr Entsch said today. “In the first two rounds the only application that got up was $5 million in funding for the Torres Strait Sea Walls a project that the Minister himself told me did not qualify under the RDAF criteria.
“And now I’ve learnt that as late as last Thursday (FEB 14), the CEO and Chairman of the Torres Strait Regional Authority were walking the halls of Parliament in Canberra trying to find out when the first tranche of that money would be delivered.
“It’s been eight months since Mr Crean announced this funding when is he going to pay up?”
Sea walls crumble on Saibai Island while the TSRA waits for its RDA grant.
Mr Entsch said the best move now would be to shut the RDA down and instead focus on programs that have been proven to be successful, such as the Regional Solutions program under the last Coalition government which saw tens of millions of dollars invested in the region.
“Despite all the hype and promises of the RDA, not a cent has been spent in FNQ since its inception,” he said. “It’s raising people’s hopes and expectations but nothing is being achieved.”
Mr Entsch said the fact that the RDA had put out a press release where the only good news was that individual projects had met selection criteria and could now officially apply for the funding demonstrated the lack of outcomes in the RDA process.
“Mr Crean himself has lamented the fact that there is no money in this fund that’s because it was relying on royalties from the mining tax and we’ve all seen how successful that’s been.
“We have seen absolutely no benefit for communities in our region it’s nothing but a cruel hoax. Let’s look forward to September 14th and what will come afterwards.”