‘Roy­al­ties mis­use’ fires anger

Manjimup-Bridgetown Times - - Front Page - Tari Jef­fers

COM­MU­NITY lead­ers are con­cerned the State Bud­get’s $4 bil­lion Roy­al­ties for Re­gions fund is be­ing used for projects pre­vi­ously part of nor­mal ex­pen­di­ture in a bid to free up money for met­ro­pol­i­tan projects.

Man­jimup shire pres­i­dent Paul Omodei, Bridgetown-Green­bushes shire pres­i­dent John Ni­cholas and War­ren Black­wood MLA Terry Red­man have ex­pressed their con­cern for projects worth $861 mil­lion that were par­tially funded out­side of Roy­al­ties for Re­gions.

Mr Red­man said the four projects that made up the $861 mil­lion were a Wa­ter Cor­po­ra­tion sub­sidy to give re­gional cus­tomers pric­ing on par with met­ro­pol­i­tan ar­eas, the Pa­tient As­sisted Travel Scheme, the Re­mote Com­mu­nity Es­sen­tial Ser­vices and a TAFE sub­sidy for re­gional stu­dents.

“It’s ef­fec­tively a cut be­cause they make sav­ings in the con­sol­i­dated funds to spend on their METRONET,” Mr Red­man said.

“I de­scribe the $861 mil­lion they’re say­ing is now be­ing cost shifted to Roy­al­ties for Re­gions as be­ing fake news be­cause the longer-term im­pact of this bud­get de­ci­sion is that ev­ery year we’re go­ing to have $400 mil­lion taken out.”

Mr Red­man said one of the lead­ing is­sues was that if you did not live in Bun­bury, Col­lie or Al­bany, “there was noth­ing in this (bud­get) for you”.

“If you look at what the La­bor Party said be­fore the election, they have now conned re­gional West Aus­tralians as to what we’re now see­ing come through in their first State Bud­get,” he said.

Fol­low­ing the Bud­get re­lease last week, a state­ment from the Gov­ern­ment con­firmed there would be more than $4 bil­lion spent in Roy­al­ties for Re­gions, in­clud­ing more than $1 bil­lion on new projects for job cre­ation, re­gional health, men­tal health and ed­u­ca­tion.

In ad­di­tion to the re­gional TAFE sub­sidy, the state­ment also spec­i­fied Roy­al­ties for Re­gions fund­ing of $147.4 mil­lion for PATS and $164 for the “es­sen­tial and mu­nic­i­pal ser­vices for re­mote and Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­ni­ties”.

“The Roy­al­ties for Re­gions fund, frame­work and leg­is­la­tion will con­tinue, as we have made clear, how­ever we are en­sur­ing fund­ing is spent wisely on projects peo­ple re­ally need,” Pre­mier Mark McGowan said.

Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Alan­nah MacTier­nan said the Bud­get struck a bal­ance be­tween re­tain­ing crit­i­cal ex­ist­ing re­gional projects and ful­fill­ing the La­bor Gov­ern­ment’s job-gen­er­at­ing election com­mit­ments in the re­gions.

Cr Omodei said there was some “sleight of hand” in see­ing pre­vi­ously con­sol­i­dated fund projects now be­ing funded through Roy­al­ties for Re­gions.

“That was go­ing on un­der the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment but is now en­hanced by the new Gov­ern­ment,” he said.

Cr Omodei added the Man­jimup Shire Coun­cil had re­ceived a letter from the State Gov­ern­ment that stated the money com­mit­ted to the Town Cen­tre Re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion Project, ex­cept the $3 mil­lion al­ready re­funded for this bud­get, would stay.

“There’s also flex­i­bil­ity to where funds within the re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion can be spent, so if there’s sur­plus from one project it can be moved to an­other,” he said.

Cr Ni­cholas said he was dis­ap­pointed at the loss of road fund­ing and said the cut was not done eq­ui­tably.

“We ef­fec­tively lost about $30,000,” he said.

“Not that it nec­es­sar­ily af­fects us, but I’m also con­cerned about the cuts to the public sec­tor in the re­gion.

“Ser­vices to the coun­try ru­ral shires will be re­duced and could be costly, slower and could cause frus­tra­tion.”

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