Community Resource Centres across regional WA will be forced to fight to retain training funds under a perverse new system orchestrated by the McGowan Government.
Labor’s $2 million Regional Traineeship Program will pit more than 100 CRCs – and 22 eligible local governments – against one another to win funding of up to $30,000.
Leader Mia Davies said half of all applications by CRCs – the lifeblood of many small regional towns – stand to be rejected via the competitive application process.
“This ill-thought out proposal by the McGowan Government will create two tiers of CRCs – the haves and the have-nots,” Ms Davies said.
“CRCs will be forced to scrap and out-compete one another against local governments to secure trainee funds, which has never been the case up until now.
“Many CRCs will simply miss out on much-needed funding as up to 22 local governments could be given approved funds ahead of the centres.”
The Nationals regional communications spokesperson Martin Aldridge said Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan was forced to retreat on her plan to slash CRC funding by 40 per cent last year amidst a furious public backlash in the bush.
Mr Aldridge said he always expected the Minister to come back with vengeance and now the cuts would be done by stealth.
“Not even six months after the CRC backflip the Minister has come back seeking her pound of flesh,” he said.
Mr Aldridge said the February 25 deadline would have caught many CRCs off-guard as they have waited patiently for months for funding certainty and clarity.
“To have only a month to ready their submissions is going to cause angst throughout the CRC network, especially among those seeking trainees to bolster local capacity,” he said.
“The CRCs had been given no criteria, no guidelines and no application forms up until now.”
Mr Aldridge said if all 22 eligible local governments applied and received the full grant it would represent a $660,000 cut to the CRC training pool.
“If the government feels the need to invest in Local Government capacity it should do just that by establishing a dedicated program for that purpose, not diverting monies from CRC funds,” Mr Aldridge said.
“One of the eligible Local Governments has an annual budget approaching $50 million. This demonstrates many have the capacity to engage trainees if there is a local need.”