Premier dis­misses levy for com­mu­nity fund idea

North West Telegraph - - Telegraph News -

Premier Mark McGowan has shot down his own min­is­ter’s sug­ges­tion min­ers could be asked to pay an additional levy to fund Pil­bara sport­ing and com­mu­nity groups.

Mr McGowan was asked in Par­lia­ment last week if he agreed with Sport and Recre­ation Min­is­ter Mick Mur­ray’s idea for a small per tonne levy, with the ex­tra cash to go into a com­mu­nity fund, as re­ported in the North West tele­graph on November 1. “We do not have any plans to un­der­take that ac­tiv­ity,” Mr McGowan said.

His re­ply con­tra­dicted what Mr Mur­ray had told the North West Tele­graph a week ear­lier. “We’re work­ing on it in sport and rec now,” he had said of the fund idea, which could raise mil­lions of dol­lars for lo­cal groups and would be man­aged by the com­mu­nity, rather than a gov­ern­ment depart­ment or in­dus­try.

Speak­ing on a visit to the North West, Mr Mur­ray said he was hope­ful leg­is­la­tion wouldn’t be needed to set up the fund and that lo­cal shires and re­sources com­pa­nies would come to the party will­ingly.

“I’d like to think that the com­pa­nies and the shires work with the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties to be able to bring some­thing for­ward that is so much com­mu­nity-ori­en­tated that peo­ple own it,” he said.

Dis­miss­ing the idea in Par­lia­ment just a week later, Mr McGowan said Roe MP Peter Run­dle had raised it dur­ing ques­tion time to “score points off ob­scure news­pa­per ar­ti­cles”.

Na­tion­als leader Mia Davies pressed Mr Mur­ray fur­ther af­ter the Premier’s com­ments, ask­ing if work had started on the idea.

Mr Mur­ray said he “had no knowl­edge of that and noth­ing has been done out of my of­fice”.

When Ms Davies asked if the min­is­ter was telling the truth, Mr Mur­ray dodged the ques­tion, in­stead bring­ing up top­ics such as the nam­ing of Perth Sta­dium and Elizabeth Quay.

“Mem­bers op­po­site pick up one­lin­ers and come up with ab­so­lute rub­bish and that is what is wrong with the op­po­si­tion,” he said.

“No work is be­ing done on that area, but while I was in the North West I brought up that since 1949... the Coal Min­ers Wel­fare Board of WA was es­tab­lished through a per tonne levy in the coal in­dus­try.

“That was discussed for the Pil­bara area; we were look­ing at some­thing to co-or­di­nate what is done in that area, not nec­es­sar­ily through a tax. We were talk­ing about how we co-or­di­nate monies into a com­mu­nity so that ev­ery­one gets a fair go.”

In a state­ment is­sued af­ter ques­tion time, Ms Davies said it was un­clear whether the levy idea was a “thought bub­ble” by an overzeal­ous min­is­ter or some­thing that is gen­uinely be­ing in­ves­ti­gated.

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