Con­veyor belt of prom­ises

Tom Zaun­mayr looks at the elec­tion pledges for the Pil­bara that the can­di­dates have been mak­ing in the lead-up to the State elec­tion on March 11.

Pilbara News - - Election 2017 -

Po­lit­i­cal hope­fuls have been go­ing around tout­ing their plans for the State since the be­gin­ning of the year, an­nounc­ing poli­cies and fund­ing com­mit­ments they be­lieve the com­mu­ni­ties they hope to rep­re­sent need. Sev­eral lobby groups, non-prof­its and cham­bers have also made elec­tion pitches to can­di­dates to get them think­ing about pol­icy ar­eas which af­fect the in­ter­est groups they rep­re­sent.

This is what they have to say.

Re­sources

The Cham­ber of Min­er­als and En­ergy has run a high-pro­file cam­paign against WA Na­tion­als leader Bren­don Grylls since he an­nounced the $5 special lease rental pro­posal last year.

CME chief ex­ec­u­tive Reg Howard-Smith reaf­firmed the cham­ber’s po­si­tion the tax would cost nearly 3000 jobs in the Pil­bara.

“When you talk about uni­lat­eral changes to State agree­ments you ac­tu­ally un­der­mine sov­er­eign risk and that is an is­sue that the Pre­mier of WA fully un­der­stands,” he said.

“That is a real fear and that is why I think the sec­tor over­all op­poses this tax, not just BHP and Rio Tinto.

“Bren­don has no sup­port for his pol­icy, not from his al­liance part­ners here in the Lib­er­als nor his Fed­eral Na­tional Party coun­ter­parts.”

Mr Howard-Smith said the Na­tion­als were play­ing a dan­ger­ous game us­ing the pro­posed tax to bankroll elec­tion com­mit­ments.

“Ini­tially it was to help State debt, then there was the pro­posal on pay­roll tax, then we saw some as­sis­tance to the rail from Man­durah to Bunbury, then we saw tourism and now last week­end there was a pro­posal to as­sist the School of Mines,” he said.

“He is go­ing around spend­ing this money, many times over, that he is not go­ing to get.

“This is about pur­suit of power, it is not about pol­i­tics.”

Mr Howard-Smith said it would be ben­e­fi­cial to see re­form of un­nec­es­sary du­pli­ca­tion of ap­provals pro­cesses be­tween State and Fed­eral gov­ern­ment, though he noted this was mostly an is­sue with the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment.

Bet­ter pro­tec­tion of in­dus­trial buf­fers, safety leg­is­la­tion, work­force di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion and em­ploy­ment of more indige­nous Aus­tralians and women in the re­sources sec­tor were also high on CME’s elec­tion bucket list.

Arts

Coun­try Arts WA chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul MacPhail is push­ing for lo­cal MPs and can­di­dates to com­mit to $24 mil­lion in fund­ing for re­gional arts pro­grams.

Mr MacPhail said Roy­al­ties for Re­gions’ Creative Re­gions pro­gram had de­liv­ered tan­gi­ble so­cial and eco­nomic ben­e­fits in the 18 months since it was opened.

“Arts and cul­ture ac­tiv­i­ties, par­tic­u­larly shows and per­for­mances, help bring com­mu­ni­ties to­gether and evoke cre­ativ­ity, in­ter­ac­tion and con­nec­tion be­tween peo­ple. This is es­pe­cially true for re­gional com­mu­ni­ties,” he said.

“Art ini­tia­tives like (the New­man Main­street Project) cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for so­cial in­ter­ac­tion, in­clu­sion and com­mu­nity co­he­sion.

“As more peo­ple be­come in­volved in re­gional arts, through one-one-one in­ter­ac­tion with an arts or­gan­i­sa­tion or par­tic­i­pa­tion in a funded project, our re­gional

com­mu­ni­ties be­come more creative, con­nected, en­abled and dy­namic places to live.”

Busi­ness

Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try called on par­ties to com­mit to not in­tro­duc­ing or rais­ing new fees, charges or taxes for busi­ness.

CCI chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Dei­dre Will­mott said there were three op­tions for in­fra­struc­ture and bud­get re­pair for whichever party forms gov­ern­ment — as­set sales, re­duc­tion in re­cur­rent ex­pen­di­ture or new tax rev­enue.

“It is crit­i­cal that all par­ties un­der­stand that it is busi­ness that cre­ates jobs, not gov­ern­ments — over the past five years, the pub­lic sec­tor em­ployed around 200,000 peo­ple, whereas the pri­vate sec­tor put wages in the pock­ets of more than 1.1 mil­lion West Aus­tralians,” she said.

“Slug­ging the busi­ness com­mu­nity with a tax hike is not what will help solve WA’s un­em­ploy­ment prob­lem.”

In­de­pen­dent mod­el­ling found lift­ing the pay­roll tax thresh­old by $100,000 would see 278 di­rect jobs and 602 in­di­rect jobs cre­ated across the econ­omy. Ms Will­mott said if ei­ther party was se­ri­ous about jobs, they would com­mit to pay­roll tax re­form.

“Small and medium busi­nesses are tear­ing their hair out and telling CCI that they want to be able to give jobs to work­ers, but their busi­ness sim­ply can­not with­stand hit­ting the $850,000 pay­roll tax thresh­old and be­ing crushed by the ex­tra tax bur­den,” she said.

Trades

The Mas­ter Builders As­so­ci­a­tion is call­ing on the State Gov­ern­ment to dou­ble in­cen­tives to use re­gional build­ing con­trac­tors and sup­pli­ers un­der buy-lo­cal pol­icy.

MBA di­rec­tor Michael McLean said the 10 per cent price pref­er­ence pol­icy should ap­ply for con­tracts up to $10 mil­lion, above the ex­ist­ing $5 mil­lion thresh­old.

“(Lo­cal builders) en­cour­age use of lo­cal labour, sup­pli­ers and trades and cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for ap­pren­tice­ships,” he said.

Mr McLean said MBA would also like to see cri­te­ria for what de­fines a lo­cal busi­ness strength­ened.

“A re­quire­ment should be that at least a small num­ber of the busi­ness’s em­ploy­ees live per­ma­nently in the town or lo­cal­ity,” he said.

“Cur­rently an of­fice can be said to be per­ma­nent if it has been op­er­a­tional for six months. This should be in­creased to a year.”

Mr McLean said it was too easy to claim at the time of ten­der­ing that lo­cal labour and ma­te­ri­als would be used but then to bring in sub­con­trac­tors and sup­plies from else­where.

Pub­lic hous­ing

WA Coun­cil of So­cial Ser­vice chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Louise Gi­olitto said the im­por­tance of ad­dress­ing WA’s “crit­i­cal” hous­ing and home­less­ness is­sue could not be un­der­stated.

“The amount of pub­lic hous­ing in WA is not only fail­ing to keep up with our pop­u­la­tion growth, but has in fact been in de­cline. The pub­lic hous­ing wait­list now has over 18,000 peo­ple on it, wait­ing on aver­age for nearly three years,” she said.

“What is more dis­turb­ing is that al­most 2000 peo­ple are on the pri­or­ity wait­list.”

Shel­ter WA spokesman Stephen Hall said build­ing af­ford­able hous­ing would stim­u­late the econ­omy while also meet the hous­ing needs of low-in­come house­holds.

“These are dif­fi­cult eco­nomic times, but that is all the more rea­son for gov­ern­ment to have the right pri­or­i­ties and tackle dis­ad­van­tage in our State,” he said.

“Se­cure hous­ing, with the right sup­port, en­hances well­be­ing, en­ables en­gage­ment in so­ci­ety and fa­cil­i­tates eco­nomic par­tic­i­pa­tion.”

Health

WA As­so­ci­a­tion for Men­tal Health chief ex­ec­u­tive Rod Ast­bury said peo­ple with men­tal health prob­lems were among the most marginalised in the com­mu­nity.

“Com­mu­nity-based ser­vices op­er­ate at the front­line with those in need, and very of­ten at that point where the dif­fer­ing and some­times dis­parate needs are read­ily ap­par­ent,” he said. “It is at that time that it is most ef­fi­cient to bro­ker, co­or­di­nate or pro­vide ser­vices.”

Abo­rig­i­nal Health Coun­cil of WA chair­woman Michelle Nel­sonCox said im­prov­ing health out­comes for Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple re­quired a fo­cus on com­mu­nityled pro­grams and con­sul­ta­tion.

“Pro­grams and ser­vices de­liv­ered by Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­nity con­trolled health or­gan­i­sa­tions are the most ef­fec­tive and cost-ef­fi­cient means of en­gag­ing with Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple,” she said.

WA Network of Al­co­hol and other Drug Agen­cies chief ex­ec­u­tive Jill Run­dle said there needed to be more fund­ing to meet de­mand for al­co­hol and other drug ser­vices.

“The spe­cialised ser­vices pro­vided by the al­co­hol and other drug sec­tor in West­ern Aus­tralia are proven, ap­ply ev­i­dence-based prac­tice and make a mean­ing­ful dif­fer­ence,” she said.

Women’s Com­mu­nity Health Network WA ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Ali­son Evans said ac­ces­si­ble, ap­pro­pri­ate and timely care would strengthen the well­be­ing of chil­dren, fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties.

“Com­mu­nity-based ser­vices build the ca­pac­ity of women and their fam­i­lies to sus­tain qual­ity health out­comes and so re­duce the bur­den of ill health across the State.”

En­vi­ron­ment

Con­ser­va­tion Coun­cil of WA crit­i­cised WA La­bor re­cently af­ter shadow en­ergy min­is­ter Bill John­ston said the party would not com­mit to a re­new­able en­ergy tar­get.

CCWA di­rec­tor Piers Ver­ste­gen said an en­ergy tar­get was a pop­u­lar ini­tia­tive which would tran­si­tion the econ­omy to cleaner and more af­ford­able en­ergy source.

“The pop­u­lar­ity of re­new­able en­ergy re­flects the grow­ing re­al­i­sa­tion in the com­mu­nity that so­lar, wind, and other re­new­ables are the most ben­e­fi­cial to our State,” he said.

Pic­ture: Tom Zaun­mayr

Iron ore stock­piles at Rio Tinto's Cape Lam­bert port fa­cil­ity near Wick­ham.

Piers Ver­ste­gen

Michael McLean

Reg Howard-Smith

Dei­dre Will­mott

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