Shadow Minister for Youth Affairs Hugh Delahunty has slammed the Brumby Government for dragging its feet on matching the Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition’s promise to fund the Victorian Rock Eisteddfod.
This year’s Rock Eisteddfod was scrapped, and thousands of school students missed out on what has become a rite-of-passage in our state schools, because the Brumby Government refused to match the Coalition’s $800,000 pledge.
The Coalition announced in February it would commit $800,000 over four years to ensure the event continued. Today that policy commitment, which was derided by the Brumby Government as ‘lazy policy developed on the run’ has become the 80th policy adopted by Labor.
“The hypocrisy of the Brumby Government is staggering. After refusing to fund the event and trying to score cheap political points by criticising the Coalition’s pledge, John Brumby and James Merlino have done a complete back flip,” Mr Delahunty said.
“Organisers asked the Brumby Government last September to increase funding to $200,000 for this year’s event but John Brumby refused.
“As a result organisers were forced to call curtains on the event, leaving about 7500 students – to say nothing of parents and teachers – out in the cold.”
Mr Delahunty said funding for the event had gone south under Labor, which had failed to adjust its funding contribution for inflation.
“In 2004 the event was receiving $136,000 from the Victorian Government, but that decreased and it was attracting little more than $100,000 most recently,” Mr Delahunty said.
“Labor not only cut the event’s budget, but also refused to adjust its contribution for CPI, and raised fees for the use of Hisense Arena – one of the only venues large enough to stage the event.
“Competition dates were set and schools had put in hours of work in preparation for this year’s competition, and still John Brumby ignored the pleas from families, students and teachers, and stood by while the event was scrapped.”
Mr Delahunty said John Brumby had turned his back on the Victorian Rock Eisteddfod when it needed support, and today was displaying disgraceful arrogance expecting students and families to trust him.“This event has been enthusiastically supported by students, teachers and the wider community for the past 30 years but when it counted most, the Brumby Government failed to give it the support it deserves,” Mr Delahunty said.