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Questions around Bushfire Economic Recovery (BLER) Fund announcement for walking trail

The Beagle Editor,

I was contacted this morning by a friend, who had recognised a problem in regard to the $5.2 million allocated to the 30km foreshore walking trail, by Minister Andrew Constance announced on The Beagle and by the Member for Bega on his Facebook page (below).


VIDEO: Andrew Constance MP

This information resulted in a quick search of the NSW State Government website to establish the facts of the matter.

As a consequence, the following email was forwarded to the Dept of Premier and Cabinet (DPC)

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To whom it may concern, I write seeking an explanation as to why Minister Andrew Constance has announced the allocation of $5.2 million from the Bushfire Economic Recovery (BLER) Fund, to a project in the Eurobodalla Shire - * when applications do not close until 11 Dec 2020 * when the assessment and approval process will not be completed until the end of March * and successful projects will not be announced until April 2021 onwards

Source: Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund Program Guidelines The Minister’s announcement was reported in the Beagle Weekly (link and excerpt below) https://www.beagleweekly.com.au/post/30km-eurobodalla-foreshore-track-receives-funding 30km Eurobodalla foreshore track receives funding Andrew Constance MP has announced exciting news for both locals and visitors to the Eurobodalla saying a a new waterside walking trail is on the way. "Thanks to the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund, co-funded by the NSW and Australian Governments, we’ve announced $5.2m to help deliver the Batemans Bay Coastal Headlands Walking Trail." It is apparent that the proper procedure, as outlined on the NSW Government website and pasted below, was not complied with.

Source: https://www.nsw.gov.au/regional-nsw/bushfire-local-economic-recovery-fund What is the point of having an assessment process that can be ignored and an assessment panel that can be overriden by the whim of a Minister? The BLER Fund applications opened on 27 October 2020 and applications close 11 December 2020. The assessment and approval process is set to be complete at the end of March 2021 with the announcement of successful applications from April 2021 but the Member for Bega has announced, on November 12th, 2020 that "thanks to the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund, co-funded by the NSW and Australian Governments, we’ve announced $5.2m to help deliver the Batemans Bay Coastal Headlands Walking Trail." What is the point of applicants putting extensive time and effort into detailed submissions when, apparently, they count for nothing? And since when, can a Minister make $million funding decisions on behalf of a Government? I welcome a response on this matter. Patricia Gardiner Deua River Valley, 2537

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