"DAVID Gillespie's a wuss." So said an angered Greater Taree City Council mayor this week.
Cr Paul Hogan was seething over speculation that $10 million in promised federal funding for the Gateway Regional Transport Hub at Cundletown would be lost, should a coalition government come into power tomorrow.
"(Nationals candidate) David Gillespie recently said that the incoming coalition government would be looking at all funding that's unallocated, but this has been pre-determined, allocated funding following submissions to the RDA (Regional Development Australia) and to use any excuse that would see this fall through is a travesty," he said.
The mayor believes that it is Dr Gillespie's responsibility to fight for this project that would see more than 200 jobs created just in its initial stages and would mean $200 million towards the depleted local economy, however he is not convinced that it is a priority for the Nationals candidate for Lyne.
Nationals leader, Warren Truss reiterated Dr Gillespie's thoughts in an address to the National Press Club - "If there haven't been contracts signed then they are just Labor party election promises," he said.
But Cr Hogan said if the gateway funding is lost because of this "poor excuse" then he sees it as a clear example of the "National Party's feelings towards this area".
"The Gateway project was not a Labor election promise," he continued.
"The federal funding was to come from the Regional Development Australia (RDA) fund and was a result of a hard-working collaboration between Greater Taree City Council staff, the Manning Valley Business Chamber, and the Partnership Board over the past two years, as well as efforts by both the federal and state governments.
"We're still pushing through with our side of things. I attended a meeting just last week with the Department of Trade and Investment, the RMS and the Department of Planning to get the facts to the State government for their side of the funding to be organised," he said.
The mayor recently tackled State National MP, Stephen Bromhead on the same subject and was not happy with his response.
"I told Stephen that for them (the coalition) to even think about dissolving this project is a tragedy.
"How demoralising for the local community," he said.
When the Times contacted Dr Gillespie for comment he gave a vague response in relation to questions of the future of the gateway project.
"In relation to Regional Development Australia projects if we win government we will seek information on these projects from the department and will make announcements then as to which projects that we match funding for. If a project has had contracts signed then it will be honoured," he said.
However as the Gateway project is yet to be signed off, there is no guarantee that it will go through.
Dr Gillespie did not reveal any plans to champion the important project for the Lyne electorate nor did he specifically refer to the Gateway hub in his response.
He instead chose to claim that Labor's regional election commitments were "phantom announcements with no actual money in the bank to fund" and to spruik the coalition's recently announced $1billion over five years for social and economic infrastructure in regional Australia, before adding that $292,000 was announced this week for CCTV in Taree.