Pol­icy tour snub for north

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Glenn Cord­ing­ley and Tom Zaun­mayr

State MPs and stake­hold­ers have lined up to take a swipe at the Fed­eral Govern­ment for snub­bing the Pil­bara and Kim­ber­ley from key dis­cus­sions aimed at re­shap­ing a re­gional de­vel­op­ment pol­icy.

The Govern­ment plans to con­duct a grass­roots con­sul­ta­tion process in the re­gions to un­der­stand lo­cal needs bet­ter, but only Albany and Gin­gin have been in­cluded on the WA itin­er­ary.

La­bor Mem­ber for the Min­ing and Pas­toral Re­gion Stephen Daw­son said the Govern­ment would be “stupid” not to visit the Pil­bara and Kim­ber­ley if it was se­ri­ous about draft­ing a re­gional de­vel­op­ment pol­icy.

“The Pil­bara has been Aus­tralia’s eco­nomic pow­er­house for the last few years, but is now go­ing through harder times and the Kim­ber­ley, aside from be­ing a ma­jor tourism desti­na­tion, is home to a sig­nif­i­cant Abo­rig­i­nal pop­u­la­tion who could re­ally ben­e­fit by be­ing con­sulted with on a new pol­icy,” he said.

Mr Daw­son said it was not good enough to con­sult Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Aus­tralia com­mit­tees about the plan.

“The mem­bers of those are ap­pointed by the min­is­ter,” he said.

“Come and talk to the real peo­ple on the ground, who’ll tell it how it is.”

Kar­ratha and Dis­tricts Cham­ber Com­merce and In­dus­try chief ex­ec­u­tive John Lally said it was com- mon sense to in­clude the Pil­bara in dis­cus­sions. “On all re­gional mat­ters we would ex­pect the Pil­bara be con­sulted,” he said.

Durack MHR and mem­ber of the North­ern Aus­tralia com­mit­tee Melissa Price said she would lobby Deputy Prime Min­is­ter War­ren Truss and his as­sis­tant min­is­ter

Michael McCor­mack to en­sure that they visit the north.

“For too long the north has been put in the ‘not im­por­tant’ bas­ket, but this Govern­ment will de­velop the north and has demon­strated that by be­ing the proud ar­chi­tect of the North­ern Aus­tralia White Pa­per,” she said.

A spokesman from Mr McCor­mack’s of­fice said there was space in the first week of con­sul­ta­tions and af­ter the sit- ting of Fed­eral Par­lia­ment be­tween March and May to reach other towns.

“We are not rul­ing out vis­it­ing any towns in the Pil­bara or the Kim­ber­ley,” he said.

The spokesman said re­gions would have a voice through the 55 RDA com­mit­tees, which had all been in­vited to make sub­mis­sions and meet the min­is­ter.

Mr Truss said the new re­gional de­vel­op­ment pol­icy would put re­gional ar­eas, in­clud­ing in­dige­nous com- mu­ni­ties, “firmly in the driver’s seat”. Greens Mem­ber for the Min­ing and Pas­toral Re­gion Robin Chap­ple said the North West had “in­cred­i­ble growth po­ten­tial”, but had been “thrown in the too-hard bas­ket”.

“Not in­clud­ing the Pil­bara or Kim­ber­ley is to com­pletely miss the point of fur­ther­ing re­gional de­vel­op­ment for Western Aus­tralia,” he said.

As­so­ci­a­tion of Min­ing and Ex­plo­ration Com­pa­nies chief ex­ec­u­tive Si­mon Ben­ni­son said the North West should not be shunned. “We would love to see all min­is­ters, let alone the deputy PM, visit th­ese re­gional ar­eas so they un­der­stand their needs and un­der­stand how they should be col­lab­o­rat­ing with the var­i­ous States and re­gions in mak­ing sure their needs are met,” he said.

Cham­ber of Min­er­als and En­ergy WA chief ex­ec­u­tive Reg Howard-Smith said the views of re­source-rich towns needed to be taken into ac­count.

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