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New Labor tax must fund reversal of education cuts to win Nats’ support

The Nationals WA are demanding Labor use a portion of proceeds from the McGowan Government’s latest cash grab to reverse its “mean” education funding cuts.

Finance spokesperson Terry Redman today moved an amendment to the Government’s proposed Foreign Buyers Surcharge legislation which, if passed, would see a 7 per cent tax imposed on foreign persons purchasing residential property in Western Australia.

“Failure to pass our amendment will result in Nationals MPs opposing the legislation in Upper House,” he said.

Mr Redman said prior to the 2017 election the Premier promised a 4 per cent tax on foreign property buyers but had since increased that to 7 per cent.

“The Government proposed to use proceeds – about $70 million over three years – from the new tax to fund a freeze on TAFE fees,” Mr Redman said.

“The Premier does not have a mandate to increase the rate to 7 per cent, therefore we are demanding that those extra proceeds – about $50 million from 2018-19 to 2021-22 – are used to reverse Labor’s suite of cuts to regional education.”

Leader Mia Davies said the $50 million would fund the continued operation of Moora Residential College and six camp schools across the State which Labor have proposed closing.

It would also extinguish the need for Labor to raid the Agricultural Farm Provisions Trust and keep the doors of the Landsdale Farm School and Herdsman Lake Wildlife Centre open.

“Labor’s attack on education has caused a significant deal of pain and angst in regional communities,” Ms Davies said. “The Nationals' proposed amendment to the Foreign Buyers Surcharge can end the suffering and put parents and students’ minds at ease.

“If this Labor Government cares about the education and well-being of our country kids they will accept our amendment.

Moore MLA Shane Love, who has campaigned ferociously to save Moora Residential College, said the McGowan Government had proven adept at performing backflips but a number of the disastrous education cuts, initially announced in December 2017, remained.

“We’ve seen that the Government is prepared to backflip on their proposed closure of the School of the Air, shutting Northam Residential College and slashing funding from Community Resource Centres,” Mr Love said.

“Yet they remain steadfast on punishing the community of Moora and the families whose kids attend the residential college. Today’s amendment gives the Government an opportunity to save face.”

Ms Davies said regional camp schools – in Kalgoorlie, Pemberton, Bridgetown, Dampier and Geraldton – were too important to lose.

“On top of the well-documented educational and social benefits these camp facilities offer students, they also provide an economic boost in the towns they are located,” she said.

“The camp schools employ local staff and utilise local businesses for groceries and maintenance. The impact of their closure will be felt deeply throughout those communities.”