Farmers have raised grave concerns about a decision to award funding meant for drought-affected communities to metropolitan projects, says their peak representative body.
City of Launceston council received 10 million in funding through the Building Better Regions Fund to help support the proposed Creative Precinct development.
The development would see a bus exchange and mall walk through created at the site of the old Birchalls building and Paterson Street car park.
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Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association chief executive Peter Skillern said many farmers were angry about the decision and had expressed their frustration to the TFGA.
"We understand the funding was supposed to be directed for projects that would assist farmers to become more drought resilient," he said.
"Farmers are extremely angry and concerned, we have had many conversations with our members over the past 24 hours."
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He said members would have preferred to see the funding used to expand irrigation schemes across Tasmania.
Lyons Labor MHR Brian Mitchell and Clarke Independent MHR Andrew Wilkie have described the grant as pork barrelling.
A spokesperson for Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the project was eligible for funding.
"Claims of 'pork-barrelling' are misguided and do a disservice to the real benefits BBRF Round 4 will bring to communities across Australia," the spokesperson said.
The City of Hobart council was advised not to apply for the grant because it did not meet eligibility criteria.
The spokesperson for Mr McCormack said that advice did not come from his office.
LCC general manager Michael Stretton said they would not have applied for the funding if they weren't eligible.
"Liaison with the Australian Government prior to the submission of the application confirmed that the parts of the northern region which were experiencing severe rainfall deficiency and low waterway flows were eligible to apply for the funding round," he said.
He said the application was made on good faith with publicly available data.
Bureau of Meteorology data shows there was no severe rainfall deficiency in Tasmania between April 2018 and June 2020.
Bass Liberal MHR Bridget Archer said she would always welcome funding that would create jobs.
"I always welcome funding that creates jobs and opportunities for my region - particularly in a time of so much economic uncertainty," she said.
"I had no role in, nor would it be appropriate for me to have a role in, the decision making process for the BBRF applications."
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