MP demands financial support for Campbelltown Arts Centre amid pork-barreling claims

Macarthur MP Dr Mike Freelander has claimed it was "immoral" the Campbelltown Arts Centre missed out on an Australian Council of the Arts grant.
Macarthur MP Dr Mike Freelander has claimed it was "immoral" the Campbelltown Arts Centre missed out on an Australian Council of the Arts grant.

Macarthur MP Dr Mike Freelander has claimed it was "immoral" the Campbelltown Arts Centre missed out on an Australian Council of the Arts grant while many other projects in Liberal and National Party held seats deemed unworthy were successful.

Former NSW Arts Minister Don Harwin and Nationals leader John Barilaro approved more than $3 million in grants in coalition-held seats for 13 regional arts projects judged ineligible by an expert panel.

Dr Freelander said the snub was "a slap in the face to South-West Sydney" after recent allegations the Liberal and National Coalition had engaged in pork-barreling arts funding into Coalition seats.

The award-winning Centre is a "local icon", according to the Member for Macarthur, and in need of Government support amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Campbelltown Arts Centre recently was rejected for funding for the Australian Council of the Arts, and the pork-barreling allegations have angered many in the sector.

"These actions are immoral, and really are a slap in the face to South-West Sydney," Dr Freelander said.

"We have a wonderful local facility which is under pressure in Campbelltown, which has thus far been denied access to necessary stimulus.

"Yet, in other parts of the state it would appear that money has been flowing; some of it to projects that go against the expert advice."

Dr Freelander has argued that the facility ought to be better supported by the state and commonwealth in these trying times.

"The Government has thus far failed to provide any real support to the struggling Arts sector, amidst this global health crisis," the Member for Macarthur said.

"Since the outbreak of the crisis, some of the most significant job losses have been seen in the hospitality and arts sector, yet the sector has been left wanting.

"We need to see long-term, recurrent funding made available to institutions such as these.

"Campbelltown Arts Centre services multiple geographic areas, and provides opportunities to many groups including Indigenous, ESL groups and young people."

Deputy Premier John Barilaro denied any wrongdoing to the ABC.

Mr Barilaro said the Regional Cultural Fund's purpose was to "deliver real benefits to real people, not satisfy only arty types who sometimes populate these departmental panels."

This story MP demands financial support for Campbelltown Arts Centre amid pork-barreling claims first appeared on Campbelltown-Macarthur Advertiser.