RURAL Victorians are losing patience with the Victorian Government's plan to deliver natural gas to the bush.
Community leaders from some of the dozen towns earmarked for the expansion now believe the 2010 state election promise should never have been made.
- RELATED COVERAGE
- Natural gas rollout failing
- Natural gas vow runs out of steam
- Towns in natural gas limbo
- Election promises disappear
The $100 million Energy for the Regions Program was the Coalition's big ticket promise for rural areas.
Progress has only been made at the two "easiest" locations at Mildura and Huntly.
No gas company has yet shown sufficient interest in the other towns despite having passed the halfway mark of the Coalition's term of office.
Three attempts have been made to win the private companies over - the pipeline extension was abandoned, the three companies have a few more weeks to respond to an offer of subsidies, and a third tender has been launched investigating the building of gas tanks outside the towns.
The Government has released the subsidies on offer to the gas companies for each town.
They are: Avoca ($6.57m), Bannockburn ($6.64m), Heathcote ($13.86m), Invermay ($3.37m), Koo Wee Rup ($3.64m), Lakes Entrance ($14.26m), Maldon ($5.84m), Marong ($2.42m), Orbost ($8.06m), Terang ($6.52m), Wandong-Heathcote Junction ($3.97m), Warburton ($7.88m), Winchelsea ($3.94m).
Agreement has been reached on Huntly ($4.5m) and Mildura ($10.1m).
Briefing documents obtained by Opposition regional development spokeswoman Jacinta Allan showed gas companies believed "regional towns are largely seen as being small and difficult".
"We did all this work when we were in government and the gas network is extended as far is it could be," she said.
Wandong-Heathcote Junction Community Group president David Moran said some people had left town because they were growing too old to use wood fire heating and couldn't afford bottled gas.
"There is a lot of ill feeling here towards the Coalition because that promise won them the election here," he said.
Graeme Ford, president of Maldon Inc, said some residents had postponed buying new stoves and heaters because of the mooted arrival of gas.
East Gippsland Shire Mayor Dick Ellis said the gas companies were playing "hard ball" with hopes for gas in Lakes Entrance and Orbost.
A spokesman for Regional Development Minister Peter Ryan was critical of Labor's Ms Allan for getting involved in the debate saying her government had failed to provide gas extensions to rural areas.