Re­forms

La­bor eva­sive on re­mote ser­vices

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Tom Zaun­mayr

WA Op­po­si­tion leader Mark McGowan has re­mained tight-lipped over whether La­bor would sup­port the Gov­ern­ment’s re­form pack­age for Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­ni­ties should it take of­fice in March.

In De­cem­ber, the State Gov­ern­ment ear­marked 10 com­mu­ni­ties to re­ceive mu­nic­i­pal ser­vices up­grades un­der the re­gional ser­vices re­form pack­age.

Wakathuni and Yande­yarra com­mu­ni­ties in the Pil­bara were among those cho­sen.

Mr McGowan de­flected sev­eral ques­tions re­gard­ing the mat­ter in Dampier last week, in­stead choos­ing to state WA La­bor would not close any com­mu­ni­ties.

Re­gional Devel­op­ment Min­is­ter Terry Red­man has said on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions the Gov­ern­ment would not be forc­ing the clo­sure of any com­mu­ni­ties.

“Mark McGowan’s com­men­tary on this com­plex and im­por­tant is­sue is very su­per­fi­cial,” he said.

“For more than a year, the Lib­eral-Na­tional Gov­ern­ment has worked with Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple to build a long-term strat­egy, a solid plan, to start walk­ing the talk on clos­ing the gap in re­mote Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­ni­ties.

“It would be a tragedy if a La­bor gov­ern­ment were to throw out this plan and sab­o­tage all the as­so­ci­ated good­will and fi­nan­cial in­vest­ment of the re­gional ser­vices re­form process.”

Mr Red­man said the Gov­ern­ment had vis­ited 179 of the 274 re­mote com­mu­ni­ties in the Kim­ber­ley, Pil­bara and Gold­fields for con­sul­ta­tion.

Mr McGowan said WA La­bor would en­sure re­mote com­mu­ni­ties re­mained open and had suf­fi­cient fund­ing for health and ed­u­ca­tion.

“We want to see re­mote com­mu­ni­ties re­main as a vi­brant and im­por­tant part of West­ern Aus­tralia,” he said.

“I think there has been a lot of con­fu­sion and a lot of an­i­mos­ity gen­er­ated by Mr (Colin) Bar­nett and the Lib­eral-Na­tional Gov­ern­ment in re­la­tion to their com­ments on re­mote com­mu­ni­ties.

“We’ll make sure, if elected, that re­mote com­mu­ni­ties stay and are sup­ported prop­erly with health, ed­u­ca­tion and other ser­vices.”

Mr McGowan said WA Pre­mier Colin Bar­nett’s com­ments about re­mote com­mu­nity clo­sures af­ter the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment pulled fund­ing in 2015 had caused hos­til­ity.

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