"Council should really be seeking a hand-up and not a hand-out."
That is the advice of Lyne MP, David Gillespie to Greater Taree City Council in the wake of the furore over the federal government decision to axe the $12.5 million Greater Taree Roads and Bridges Package.
Council and the community is reeling from the news that the federal government will not deliver stage two funding of $11.4 million from the Community Infrastructure Grant Program into council's coffers for the construction component of the roads and bridges package.
Council claims the money "was a fully funded allocation in the 2011-2012 budget" and that it had already received $1.1 million from the package to enable it to tender for the investigation, survey, design and cost estimates for each project.
Mr Gillespie rejects the claims of council and says he "wants to help but he is not responsible for the hollow promises of the ALP" and challenged council's ability to manage funds and deliver its core responsibilities.
Mr Gillespie will not be working to restore the funding but instead, says he will help council to identify its priorities for the use of funding secured from rates, state and federal government sources.
The first step, according to Mr Gillespie, is to collect information about Greater Taree City Council from the community regarding the use of funding and its roads program. , To achieve this objective he has chosen to run a survey via an advertisement in The Wingham Chronicle, The Manning River Times and The Manning Great Lakes Extra.
The survey will "probably only run once" according to Mr Gillespie, but he says its intent is to give him data.
"I need data. This will quantify the number of complaints I get about council," Mr Gillespie said.
"During the election and after the election I was inundated with complaints about council.
"Yes, it was about the roads, always about the roads, but more so, complaints about what has been done.
"The roads are bad. I know they are bad because I've driven the length and breadth of them.
"The largest council file in my office consists of complaints from my Manning constituents about Greater Taree City Council. "Locals aren't complaining about how much money is being thrown at Greater Taree City Council, rather, they are complaining about how council is spending the money it already receives.
"The local community has raised numerous examples with me of local road works that have been undertaken only for the road to fail and require work again soon after.
"This is happening over and over again and it would appear council requires a bottomless bucket of money which would be throwing good money after bad," Mr Gillespie said.
"Well it's time the circus ended and council was held to account on behalf of local ratepayers and the community.
"I have always indicated to council that I am willing to work with them. I have even offered to lobby my state colleagues to seek the assistance of the Division of Local Government or other technical experts to assist council in implementing better ways to meet its core responsibilities.
"With a debt forecast to go to well over $400-billion, the federal government is not in a position to throw council even more funding on top of the millions it already receives.
What council should really be seeking is a "hand up" not a "hand out"," he added.