RIVERINA councils have thrown their support behind state government regional grant schemes that have pumped tens of millions of dollars into the region, despite a parliamentary inquiry into the integrity of the programs.
The inquiry will look at the oversight of funding decisions, and the role of MPs and ministers in the grants process, to ensure "public confidence in the allocation of public money".
Wagga City Council provided a submission signed by mayor Greg Conkey giving his "strongest possible support" for the government to continue assisting growth outside Sydney and "turning the tide of regional decline".
"Any move to harness and constrain the proactive approach of the NSW government in this area should be rightly condemned," the submission stated.
"Look at our bizarre urban planning pattern relative to other developed countries. It is an indictment on all political parties over the past 75 years that we have allowed our regions and our regional communities to wither by poor policy."
Cr Conkey told The Daily Advertiser that the submission was prepared on his behalf to sign after all NSW councils were sent a "standard letter" inviting them to make a submission to the inquiry.
The inquiry has led to rare scenes in Parliament as government leader in the upper house Don Harwin was ejected for two days on Tuesday night.
Labor successfully moved a motion "adjudging the minister guilty of a contempt of the House for failure to comply" with an order to produce documents related to the Stronger Country Communities Fund.
Wagga council has used NSW government programs such as the Stronger Country Communities Fund to apply for money towards footpath works, disability change rooms at Oasis and female change rooms at main ovals.
The NSW government has also contributed to major council projects around Wagga such as the flood levee upgrade.
Snowy Valleys, Temora Shire, Bland Shire, Griffith, Federation and Leeton Shire councils also provided submissions in support of regional grants.
Wagga council did not provide a count of money received from regional grants programs, but Snowy Valleys totalled up more than $30 million across 172 grants over the past four years.
Griffith council listed $43 million in regional grants and low-interest loans for previous and ongoing projects in its submission.
Snowy Valleys chief executive Matthew Hyde stated that grants "had become an increasingly important factor in the ability of councils to deliver new infrastructure".
"Grant funding has enabled Snowy Valleys Council to develop new infrastructure for the benefit of our community that would not otherwise have been possible," he stated in the submission.
"Certainly, the grant funding provided to the council ... has injected substantial funding for projects otherwise unable to be completed within council's budget and led to vast improvements in community infrastructure."