Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall has criticised Regional NSW Minister Tara Moriarty on the decision to have the Department of Regional NSW sponsor the NSW Blues cricket team while simultaneously cutting millions of dollars from regional-specific grant programs.
Mr Marshall said the Minister owed country communities an explanation as to why the government would sponsor a professional Sydney-based sporting team with vital funds from the Department of Regional NSW, while taking the axe to multiple regional funding programs and grants in the recent State Budget.
“The Minister clearly has some serious explaining to do about her priorities in the portfolio,” Mr Marshall said.
“As much as people in country NSW love our sport, especially cricket in the summer, it’s farcical and downright insulting to use what little regional-specific funding survived the government’s budget razor gang to sponsor an elite city-based cricket team.
“Meanwhile, country councils, seniors and communities have seen previous regional funding programs, cost of living assistance and rebates slashed.
“The Department of Regional NSW should be using its money to support country communities, not professional sport based in Sydney.
“This is a bitter pill to swallow for country people, given the context of the recent Budget where it seemed like anything with the word ‘regional’ were cut or axed completely.
“The popular Regional Seniors Travel card was cut, alongside the Resources for the Regions Program as well as all the regional specific sport, cultural and community infrastructure funding programs.
“On the face of it, it’s an outrageous decision with terrible optics, reflecting wrong priorities and I have asked the Minister for a full explanation as to how it was made and where the money is coming from.”
The Department of Regional NSW and the Cricket NSW Men’s Team, the Blues, made the joint sponsorship announcement this week.
Cricket NSW CEO Lee Germon said Regional NSW played an important role in the state’s cricket community and the partnership with the Blues reflected that ongoing connection.
“Supporting Regional NSW is a priority for Cricket NSW,” Germon said.
“Regional NSW accounts for about half of the state’s registered players and half of our contracted players.
“Some of the greats of the game have come from regional areas in NSW. Our registration numbers in country areas so far this summer have been great and with this partnership we hope to be able to inspire more youngsters in Regional NSW to play and love cricket.”
Minister for Regional NSW Tara Moriarty said the NSW Government was proud to support Cricket NSW to support the next generation of cricketers from regional and rural NSW.
“Cricket is part of the fabric of regional and rural towns right across the state, and every weekend in our regions you’re bound to see players, young and old, battling it out on local ovals in the heat of summer,” Ms Moriarty said.
Under the deal, the Department’s logo will appear on the shirts worn by players during the Blues’ Marsh One-Day and the NSW Sheffield Shield strip.
The Minister has 35 calendar days to answer Mr Marshall’s questions on the notice paper.
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