Advocates for a second university campus in New England are concerned the federal government could go to a third budget without committing to funding the project.
While the University of New England remains committed to creating a Tamworth campus, the group in that city working on the project has concerns.
In an interview with the Express, a frustrated University Reference Group chair Mitch Hanlon said he was concerned the state government could pull out as well.
He slammed both state and federal governments for failing to negotiate properly with one another, rather than through "intermediaries or the media".
"We're over it. We're over the duplicity, we're over the lack of effort or care," he said.
"We saw good intent from UNE, in fact a lot of intent from UNE. The vision that [UNE Vice-Chancellor Professor] Brigid [Heywood] and her team have pulled together aligns fully with ours, they get it. We cannot understand why nobody else seems to get that."
The federal government is set to hand down its budget next week and advocates are concerned it could be the third in a row to not fund the project.
For two years the hold-up on the project has been Commonwealth funding commitment of just $10 million - "barely a rounding error in the federal budget" Mr Hanlon said.
But he's just as furious with the state government.
The state has committed to spend $26.6 million on the project - on the condition the Commonwealth commits to specific, allocated funding for it as well.
But the Commonwealth already spends millions on regional tertiary education through funded placements, Mr Hanlon said, and it's not clear why they need to spend more.
Mr Hanlon even offered to fundraise the $10 million himself from the community, but the state government has always insisted on a federal contribution before spending a cent, he said.
The state government promised a number of weeks ago to provide the university a draft funding deed within days, but has yet to do so, he said, and he's worried if the funding battle takes too long the state government will walk away.
"If they think this electorate is a safe National party seat they'll go and spend it on somewhere else," he said.
"I think that's unfair because it is a worthwhile project. And I think it's just base politics that's being played here. There's something going on between state and federal governments.
"I think somewhere along the line the federal government screwed the state government and this is payback time and we're piggy in the middle."
A spokesperson for Deputy Premier John Barilaro said he had written to the Vice Chancellor reaffirming the NSW Government's commitment of $26.6 million towards this project.
The spokesperson did not explain why the state has insisted on the Commonwealth making a commitment to the project.
Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge referred a media enquiry to the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.
A spokesperson for the Department refused to tell the Express if the Commonwealth would fund the project in the May budget, whether the government considered the project worth the cost or why it had taken so long.
The spokesperson said the Commonwealth was spending tens of millions of dollars on the university in Commonwealth-funded places and research block grants, among other funding sources.
"UNE has the flexibility to decide how best to use its Commonwealth Grant Scheme funding to meet local needs and student demand, including at their proposed Tamworth campus," the spokesperson said.
UNE Vice-Chancellor Professor Brigid Heywood said the university remained committed to "building our presence in Tamworth".
"The process of engagement with both the NSW Government and the Federal Government is ongoing through various forums. We take the ongoing assurances that have been provided as key indicators of progress," she said.
"The UNE Tamworth partnership continues to progress well, considering the difficulties in getting the formal instruments in place."
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