Community groups are being left in the dark on the details of the government's promised Energy Efficient Communities Program. It's designed to deliver grants to community groups, with a separate fund for small businesses, to improve their energy efficiency. There is a crying need in my electorate of Macquarie for support to do this.
Men's Sheds, scout and guide groups, community kindergartens, community centres and rural fire brigades are all supposed to be eligible. But the basis for awarding these grants is not going to be merit or need. The department's fact sheet says:
• Grants will be made available to eligible applicants on a first come, first served basis.
First come, first served! We can understand why groups in my region are getting restless. Here it is, mid-October and applications are meant to be open for the community grants but no details are available.
Why is it that in March this year Liberal MPs, like the then member for Dunkley, Chris Crewther, the member for Hume and the member for Mitchell, were inviting expressions of interest from their community to take part in this program? The question has to be asked: are these expressions of interest the ones that will be prioritised?And will Labor-held seats be effectively excluded from the process because we haven't been given the inside running to meet the first come, first served criteria?
I know this government doesn't like transparency, but this is not fair, it's not democratic and it smacks of corruption.