Government picks up White Park funding shortfall with $124,360 for grandstand seating

IT was back to business for New England MP Barnaby Joyce in the Upper Hunter today with two major funding announcements to boost local tourism.

Mr Joyce joined Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen to announce a $124,360 grant for Scone’s White Park in support of a $248,720 project to increase seating capacity.

The grant comes after a funding shortfall slowed the construction process of the all-weather equine facility – a gap Upper Hunter Shire Council had been trying to fill.

It was also a gap that resulted in the cancellation of one of the region’s drawcard events – the Scone Charity Rodeo.

But with the government coming on board Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen is confident the project could now be completed by June.

“I’m delighted to announce funding to assist the installation of new seating to cater for up to 3,000 spectators at dressage events,” Mr Johnsen said.

“These new facilities will promote the growth of regional tourism and enable the expansion of an equine events program to include regional, state and national level competitions.

“This is nothing but good news for Scone and the Upper Hunter, we have been trying for some time to get funding for the upgrade of White Park at Scone and we have been able to secure that.”

New England MP Barnaby Joyce said the upgrade would be a real boost to tourism in the Upper Hunter.

 “What’s really important is the 15,000 extra tourist nights that will come into this part of the electorate of New England, the Upper Hunter, by reason of our upgrade of the equestrian facilities here,” Mr Joyce said.

“We are working hand in gloves with local government and state government – but the drive for this is tourism.

“We understand that the economy is driven by the equine industry, the cattle industry, the dairy industry and mining in the lower half – but tourism is also a part of how to keep the commerce of Scone, Aberdeen and Murrurundi going forward.”

The announcement comes on the same day as $171,400 grant to build a visitor centre at Scone Regional Airport and the official opening of Scone Grammar School’s Secondary Teaching and Learning Centre which was supported by $900,000 in funding from the government’s Capital Grants Program.