While money continues to flood into the neighbouring seat of Monaro ahead of the state election, the Snowy Valleys is struggling to secure funding for some its priority projects.
Monaro is held by the deputy premier John Barilaro, who last week happily referred to himself as “Pork Barrel-aro”.
On Sunday, there was more money for that region when Monaro schools at Queanbeyan and Jindabyne were named among 38 schools to receive multi-million dollar upgrades totalling $917m.
It came as another blow to Tumut, which has been pushing hard for Tumut High School and Franklin Public School to be improved.
Tumut High, built in the 1960s, has been identified as a school with a maintenance backlog of more than $1m, while Franklin relies heavily on demountables for classroomsw.
Snowy Valleys mayor and former teacher James Hayes has been pushing to get funding for Tumut High and Franklin since becoming mayor of the merged council.
“Tumut High is the biggest school in the region outside of Wagga,” Cr Hayes said. “It’s producing excellent results and the teachers are working really hard, but we need 21st century teaching facilities.
“The same goes for Franklin, which has 25 per cent of its classrooms as demountables.”
He pointed out Cooma’s Monaro High School and Jindabyne Central School had received multi-million dollar funding packages in 2017.
Snowy Valleys Council has drawn up an advocacy plan ahead of the state and federal elections, hoping to leverage the current political climate to get government support for a range of priority projects.
So far, the council is yet to get any joy.
Projects include the Brindabella Road upgrade, improvements to key freight and haulage routes, completion of the pilot rail trail project at Tumbarumba, improvements to caravan parks, an education centre of excellence, a sports multi-purpose centre and a softwoods centre of excellence.
On the other side of the mountains, the money is flowing.
Mr Barilaro has promised $20m to upgrade a section of the Bobeyan Road, linking Adaminaby and Canberra, $40m for upgrades to the Monaro and Kings Highways, $17.5m for Snowy Monaro Roads package and a range of other initiatives, including $1m for the Cooma CBD and $2m to create tourism experiences in Queanbeyan.
Last weekend he announced $15m for a sports precinct in Cooma.
Cr Hayes, who was in Sydney last Friday for a mayoral conference attended by Mr Barrilaro, said he and the council were lobbying intensely in a bid secure grant funding
“We’re just waiting for a big announcement,” Cr Hayes said. “It’s encouraging to see that funds are flowing for the upper snowy, and we’d obviously like to see similar funds coming here to us.
“We don’t want to be the poor cousins.”
The council has devised an ambitious scheme which, if successful, would make securing funding for major projects a whole lot easier.
The council wants the state government to put aside $600m from the $4 billion sale of Snowy Hydro specifically for projects for both the Snowy Valleys region and the Snowy Monaro.
The fund would use earnings from the $600m for infrastructure and social projects in the two council areas.
The council also wants to receive a dollar for each megawatt produced by Snowy Hydro from the federal government.
One welcome project already secured is the new Tumut Hospital, which is guaranteed at least $50m. Planning is underway.