BUDGET: Art gallery revamp denied State cash

By , 10/07/2019 12:24

THE $21 million Newcastle Art Gallery redevelopment will almost certainly collapse after failing to recieve any money in Tuesday’s state budget.

A ‘‘livid’’ Newcastle MP Sharon Grierson said she expected the federal government will now revoke a $7 million grant for the expansion when the latest deadline expires on Thursday.

Doing so would leave the gallery with little money and at the rock bottom of Newcastle City Council’s capital spending priorities.

The state government has suggested that Newcastle City Council could apply for an $80 million Royalties for Regions program that closes in October.

But Ms Grierson said the state was well aware of the latest federal government deadline, which has already been extended twice.

‘‘That was the deal and they knew that,’’ Ms Grierson said.

‘‘We entered into good faith negotiations and I now have no faith in [state MP] Tim Owen.’’

‘‘It’s absolutely outrageous and I am livid about the process. ‘‘We won’t get that money again.’’

Even if the federal government was willing to grant another extension, the timing of the September election is problematic. The Commonwealth would want the issue resolved before going into caretaker mode in August.

The council failed to apply for the first round of the Royalties for Regions program.

Gallery chairman Robert Henderson said the suggestion that gallery funding could come from the program was ‘‘a cynical attempt at shifting the blame for this shameful state of affairs on to the council’’.

‘‘Newcastle will look back with shame at this lost opportunity to enrich the cultural and economic life of the inner city’’, Dr Henderson said.

The Art Gallery of NSW recieved $10.8 million in the state budget to plan for a future expansion.

‘‘$430 million is available from the state budget to revitalise Newcastle and yet, once again, Newcastle misses out’’, Dr Henderson said.

From left Ron Ramsey, Newcastle Region Gallery Director and Dr Robert Henderson Chairman Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation outside the gallery in December. Picture: Simone De Peak

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