Budget reprieve on cultural hub funds
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 email@example.com by 12pm Wednesday to win.