Bud­get re­prieve on cul­tural hub funds

Augusta Margaret River Times - - News - War­ren Hately

Ratepay­ers will be spared fur­ther bor­row­ings to com­plete the Shire of Au­gusta-Mar­garet River’s am­bi­tious re­de­vel­op­ment of the Mar­garet River Cul­tural Cen­tre, with a frozen fund­ing com­mit­ment of $3.1 mil­lion fi­nally re­leased in last week’s State Bud­get.

The out­stand­ing funds were in limbo af­ter a Statewide re­view of Roy­al­ties for Re­gions in­tro­duced by La­bor, but fund­ing was con­firmed last Thurs­day de­spite a wide­spread shred­ding of the pro­gram de­rided by the Op­po­si­tion.

War­ren-Black­wood MLA Terry Red­man said La­bor “pulled apart” and “dec­i­mated” RfR with $861 mil­lion of cost-shift­ing, us­ing the pro­gram for es­sen­tial ser­vices rather than its in­tended func­tion of bol­ster­ing re­gional com­mu­ni­ties.

La­bor “does not have the right to dis­man­tle a pro­gram that is needed, is leg­is­lated and which, pre-elec­tion, it duped many coun­try vot­ers into be­liev­ing it sup­ported,” Mr Red­man said.

The re­view of RfR scrapped Su­perTowns and the Na­tion­als’ $5 mil­lion Com­mu­nity Chest Fund, and the Re­gional Grant Scheme would evap­o­rate by 2019.

“This does noth­ing to em­power the re­gions in de­ter­min­ing pri­or­i­ties and pro­gress­ing sub­stan­tial projects, and will re­duce them to beg­ging for hand-outs,” Mr Red­man said.

The Bud­get also con­firmed fund­ing for the last leg of the perime­ter road and a muchde­bated $5.5 mil­lion sum al­ready banked by the Shire for com­ple­tion of the main street re­de­vel­op­ment.

South West La­bor MLC Adele Fa­rina said she was proud of the Bud­get and sup­port for the Au­gusta-Mar­garet River Shire.

“Many tough de­ci­sions have had to be made in this Bud­get as the McGowan Govern­ment starts the hard work of Bud­get re­pair due to the fi­nan­cial mess left by the for­mer Bar­nett govern­ment,” she said.

“Many projects have had to be cut be­cause they sim­ply were not funded by the for­mer govern­ment de­spite state­ments to the con­trary.” The Bud­get in­cluded $18 mil­lion in fund­ing for an ur­gently needed live-in drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre ear­marked for Bun­bury, with fund­ing also re­solved for ex­pan­sion of the Bus­sel­ton-Mar­garet River Air­port, seen as a key driver of growth, tourism and jobs across the Capes.

The Cul­tural Cen­tre fund­ing was wel­comed by Shire chiefs, who said the de­ci­sion vin­di­cated for­ward plan­ning and the $9.2 mil­lion project’s busi­ness case.

Last week, Vasse MLA Libby Met­tam and Mr Red­man de­rided La­bor’s fund­ing carve-up as “bla­tant pork-bar­relling” af­ter sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing com­mit­ments to La­bor-held Al­bany, Col­lie and Bun­bury.

Greens MLC Diane Evers said the re­tool­ing of RfR would de­ter­mine whether coun­try vot­ers re­ceived the same sup­port as met­ro­pol­i­tan com­mu­ni­ties, not­ing the Bud­get did lit­tle to ad­dress ris­ing State debt. What do you reckon? Email let­ters to edi­tor@am­r­times.com.au by 12pm Wed­nes­day to win.

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