Nationals WA member for the Agricultural Region Hon Martin Aldridge MLC is ramping up pressure on the State Government to clarify how Community Resources Centres (CRC) will be impacted by Budget cuts.
Mr Aldridge said the Government was at odds with itself over how budgetary measures would impact the CRC Network, which faces a 40 per cent reduction in funding.
“Both the Premier Mark McGowan and Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan have made it clear they do not support the level of CRC Network funding and would like a reduction in the number of centres, particularly in the Wheatbelt,” Mr Aldridge said.
“However, the Regional Development Minister’s Parliamentary Secretary Darren West has told Parliament and CRC managers there would be no closures or service reductions.
“The Government needs to come clean about its intentions. It has slashed funding before completing a review of the network and has already halved service contract terms.”
Last month The Nationals WA launched #SupportOurCRCs, a grassroots campaign demonstrating the value and importance of CRC services to regional communities.
Mr Aldridge said it was extraordinary that senior members of Government could not publicly agree on an issue.
“There are mixed messages coming from the Regional Development Minister and her Parliamentary Secretary about how CRCs are going to be impacted by cuts,” he said.
“It’s a terrible way to treat CRC managers, who have been left staring down the barrel of possible centre closures, job losses and removal of vital service delivery to regional communities.”
Mr Aldridge said the McGowan Government’s Budget cuts were focused on delivering $5 billion worth of election promises rather than reducing State debt.
“The Government say they’re making tough decisions to reduce debt, but this is simply not true,” he said.
“Regional WA is wearing all the pain of this Budget on the promise of debt reduction, yet there is no evidence of this in the McGowan Government’s Budget.”
Support our CRCs by visiting www.miadavies.com.au and downloading the petition, or post photos to The Nationals WA Facebook or Twitter feed with #SupportourCRCs.
What the Government is on the record saying about CRCs:
Hon Darren West MLC – Member for the Agricultural Region and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Regional Development
“I said the words that we had no plans to close any community resource centres and we have no plans to remove any of the services that they provide but we are reviewing funding arrangements.” 10 October 2017, Legislative Council.
“We have no plans to close any CRCs; we have no plans to reduce services in any CRCs.” 20 September 2017, Linkwest Belonging Conference.
Hon Alannah MacTiernan MLC – Minister for Regional Development
“I am certainly not taking the member’s word on what my very esteemed Parliamentary Secretary said.” 10 October 2017, Legislative Council.
“I am incredibly confident that Hon Darren West will be representing our position very accurately and very competently as he and Hon Laurie Graham move around the agricultural sector. I think they are doing an excellent job in taking our message out and bringing the message of the community back to us.” 10 October 2017 Legislative Council.
“Terms of reference (for the review) will be developed but as I have stated previously this will focus on the function, location and value for money of Community Resource Centres. I anticipate the Department will consult with relevant stakeholders.” 10 October 2017, Legislative Council.
Mark McGowan – Premier Western Australia
“The community resource centres, of course, were prominent back in the 1980s and 1990s, as I recall. I have been into them regularly over a long period. Obviously, some of their functions have changed or will need to change. I recall going in and there was a computer there that people could use to access the internet. That was the historic role of a number of them. These days, people have mobile phones so there have been some changes to their role.” 14 September 2017, Legislative Assembly.
“The review will examine the issue to which the member just referred to arrive at an optimal number and where they should be and answer all those sorts of questions. I note that the Wheatbelt has 41, the South West has 13, the Pilbara has three and the Kimberley has 11. Anyone looking at those four figures might think that they are issues that need to be considered.” 21 September 2017, Legislative Assembly Estimates Hearing.
Ralph Addis – Director General of the Department of Primary Industries and Agriculture
“Clearly, the government has signalled an intention to reduce the total budget for CRCs and we intend to conduct a review in the second half of next year.” 21 September 2017, Legislative Assembly Estimates Hearing.