THE federal government has withdrawn its $7 million funding package to the Newcastle Art Gallery expansion, and instead diverted most of it to the Glendale transport interchange project in Lake Macquarie.
The move comes after months of anger and frustration at the state government which has so far refused to commit any state funds to the art gallery project, along with moves by Newcastle City Council to put the expansion on the backburner.
At 2pm on Wednesday, federal member for Newcastle Sharon Grierson regretfully announced that the funding had been withdrawn. At the same time, federal member for Charlton Greg Combet announced that a further $5.45 million had been committed to the Glendale transport interchange project out of the federal government’s regional development fund.
‘‘There is no doubt that this is a missed opportunity for our city,’’ said Ms Grierson, who warned that the funding would likely be withdrawn if the state government didn’t come good with a funding package equal to that of the federal government and Newcastle City Council.
‘‘This is the second [regional infrastructure fund] project that Newcastle City Council has walked away from - millions of dollars in regional infrastructure assistance that our city needs but has now been given to other towns because of the council’s inability to deliver for its residents.’’
Mr Combet was joined by Lake Macquarie mayor Jodie Harrison in announcing the Glendale funding, which will be delivered to Lake Macquarie City Council to undertake preparatory road works prior to the construction of the much needed Pennant Street Bridge.
“I have always supported the Glendale interchange, and I have fought to get this project under way during my time as the local MP,” Mr Combet said.
“I was very proud to deliver $7 million to the council last year to get work moving on the first stage of the Glendale interchange.
“I am very pleased that the government has now committed a further tranche of funds to start on the next phase of building the interchange, that being the electrical infrastructure, road and earthworks in and around the Cardiff industrial estate in preparation for the construction of the Pennant Street flyover bridge.”