Government continues to defend scrapping regional fund

·2-min read

The federal government denies "twiddling its thumbs" over community funding after scrapping a controversial regional grant program set up under the coalition.

Labor has done away with the previous government's Building Better Regions Fund, after an audit found Nationals electorates received $100 million more than they would have if the money had been distributed on merit.

While removing the fund in its October budget the government reallocated money to a new Investing in Our Communities program, which supports local infrastructure, community and sports facilities across Australia.

At the time, the Nationals leader David Littleproud accused the government of turning its back on country Australians.

At a budget estimates hearing in Canberra on Tuesday, executives from the Department of Regional Australia said two projects so far had funding delivered under the new program.

Nationals senator Matt Canavan asked why it had taken months to get things rolling.

"I don't understand why the delay, why sit around twiddling thumbs, why not do the work and get so these communities can get the programs?" Senator Canavan asked.

Assistant Minister for Regional Development Anthony Chisholm said the government was proud of delivering on its election promises in an "orderly" way.

"Our method and form of government is one that will stack up well compared to how you operated in government," Senator Chisholm said.

One of the first approved projects was upgrades to Perth's Dorrien Gardens oval as a training ground for the FIFA Women's World Cup.

Though the World Cup will be held in July, the project has a completion deadline of April 2024.

"That's just what's in the agreement, the work could be done well before then," said Meghan Hibbert, the assistant secretary of the regional communications branch.

The rural and regional affairs hearings will cover agriculture and fisheries from Wednesday.