The Riverina Labor candidate for the imminent federal election has questioned the timing of funding for the freight hub.
The state Coalition government finally came to the party at the weekend with its $13.2 million contribution to the $75 million project.
The previous federal Labor government slated $14.6 million in funding for the freight hub in 2012, but it was only a part of the puzzle.
Ratepayers had to chip in $30 million of the $75 million needed for the hub to go ahead, but the state government dragged its heels – forcing federal member for Riverina Michael McCormack to persuade his government to push back the deadline until the end of June.
Country Labor Party Riverina candidate Tim Kurylowicz is fully supportive of the Riverina Intermodal Freight and Logistics (RiFL) Hub, but was critical of the state Coalition government’s delay in announcing the funding.
“If it wasn’t for the pressure from The Daily Advertiser and from Labor, Mr McCormack might not have been able to pull the strings to get the deadline for the federal money extended (from April 30),” Mr Kurylowicz said.
“Labor has been campaigning for this for several years. Mr McCormack faced the prospect of his government withdrawing funding on the eve of the election.
“It’s absolutely telling that the Coalition saves these announcements until the final days of an election campaign.”
Mr Kurylowicz said the public was growing tired of being played as political pawns with important projects, adding that waiting until an election campaign to announce funding would only hurt the Coalition in the long run.
“It’s a move straight from the John Howard playbook,” Mr Kurylowicz said.
“It’s not a new strategy – we just didn’t see it happen under Labor.”
“I’m really proud of the work Labor and I have done to hold Mr McCormack to account.
“Labor wants to take the pork-barrelling out of infrastructure projects. (People will come to expect) Mr McCormack to only do something every three years when an election rolls around.”