A BOAT harbour upgrade in Shellharbour is set to improve access to the harbour and boost tourism. However, questions have been raised as to whether designated funding will still be available if there is a change of government this weekend.
Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Labor candidate for Gilmore Neil Reilly visited Shellharbour Village last Tuesday to announce the government would provide $500,000 funding to upgrade and widen the existing boat ramp and construct a new jetty. Funding will come from the latest round of the Regional Development Australia Fund.
"The upgrade will significantly improve access and safety and increase the harbour's mooring capacity," Mr Albanese said.
It is a key feature of the Shellharbour Foreshore Improvement Project, which will also include shared pedestrian and bicycle paths, landscaping and park furniture.
The RDAF program funds infrastructure projects identified as priorities by local communities. In July, the council nominated Warilla's Crew Park and improving the Shellharbour Village foreshore as its priorities for Round 5. Funding was also available as part of a newly announced Round 5B, which enabled the council to resubmit a previously unsuccessful project.
In Round 3, it unsuccessfully sought funding to improve launching facilities within the Shellharbour boat harbour.
Councillors nominated the Shellharbour Foreshore Improvements Project as their Round 5B application.
Mr Reilly said it wasn't just local businesses that would benefit from the upgrade.
"Marine Rescue NSW provides an extremely important local service and has a unit at Shellharbour Village," he said. "The new jetty will assist their operations and make it easier for them to access their rescue vessel, improving response times for search and rescue activities."
Mr Albanese said last week the money was already in the budget and not dependent on a Labor election win.
However, last Friday all bets were off after Nationals leader Warren Truss announced plans to introduce a National Stronger Regions Fund to replace the RDAF if the Coalition won the election.
He said RDAF projects without a signed contract would be deemed a Labor election promise.
Gilmore Liberal candidate Ann Sudmalis said there were several RDAF projects which were unsuccessful in previous rounds, and the applicants had been invited to reapply.
However, she said the new round of funding was not in the budget.