Bradbery disappointed with Wollongong snub

Every mining-affected region in the state has made the shortlist for special state government funding - except Wollongong.

This is despite five applications coming from the city for the second round of Resources for Regions funding, including the bid to turn WIN Entertainment Centre into a convention centre and $3.6 million to help fix Mount Keira Road.

A spokesman for Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner yesterday denied the region had been snubbed, saying Wollongong had received $4.5 million to fix the Cordeaux Road bridge in the first round of funding and the region had received $100 million last month from the Illawarra Infrastructure Fund.

Rejected WEC plan: government ignored own criteria

The Resources for Regions program allocates a total of $120 million over two rounds to mining-affected communities across the state.

There are eight such regions - Cobar, Lithgow, Mid-Western, Muswellbrook, Narrabri, Newcastle, Singleton and Wollongong.

It is not the first time the proposal for the WIN Entertainment and Conference Centre has been overlooked by the government. Venues NSW also applied for the $28 million needed for the project as part of the $100 million Illawarra Infrastructure Fund but did not make the shortlist of 20.

This is despite the fact that the Sydney Convention Centre in Darling Harbour is closed until late 2016, giving Wollongong an excellent window of opportunity to enter the lucrative convention market.

There are 19 projects on the shortlist for the Resources for Regions second funding round, including five for Muswellbrook, four for Narrabri and three each for Cobar and Singleton.

Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said he didn't begrudge areas like this being shortlisted because they had small population bases and relatively large areas to look after.

Cr Bradbery was concerned, however, that Newcastle made the shortlist with a request for $12 million for the Shortland Esplanade project.

Cr Bradbery questioned the selection process, wondering how that gained preference over the reopening of Mount Keira Road.

"It's nice, it's a great project [in Newcastle] but what I'm wanting is vital infrastructure - not for tourism.

"From my perspective it needs to reopen fast. If we had bushfires that blocked Mount Ousley or there was an accident up there, which often happens, then we've got an alternate route to Picton Road - especially for emergency services to get in and out of Wollongong."

Cr Bradbery was appreciative of the $4.5 million the council received in the first round and didn't see it as being greedy to expect to be shortlisted in the second.

"Our city is continually being impacted by truck movements bringing coal to the port, rail movements and so on," he said.

Mr Stoner's spokesman defended the inclusion of the Newcastle project on the shortlist.

"Newcastle council's submission for Shortland Esplanade road and community infrastructure demonstrated that the project would address the impact of mining activity, particularly mining subsidence, to a greater degree than Wollongong council's submission for Mount Keira Road," the spokesman said.

The WIN Entertainment Centre proposal for a convention centre was knocked back because it "was not as strongly aligned to the program criteria as other projects".

"While the Resources for Regions program is open to projects that cater for economic and social infrastructure, the WIN Entertainment Centre - compared to other infrastructure under this category like hospitals and other health facilities, childcare, vocational training and affordable housing - does not meet the criteria."

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