WA Nationals Leader Mia Davies says Mark McGowan’s plan to dilute the Department of Regional Development shows just how low regional Western Australia is on Labor’s list of priorities.
“That regional development is to become just an add-on, rather than a stand-alone department, should strike fear in the hearts of all regional Western Australians,” Ms Davies said. “A return to the dark old days when communities outside of Perth were systemically neglected by government is upon us.”
Of particular concern, Ms Davies said, was what the forced amalgamations would mean for Regional Development Commissions, which were responsible under the Nationals’ Royalties for Regions program for super-charging the rebuild of country towns and services between 2009-2017.
“The Premier needs to urgently outline what his amalgamations will mean for Regional Development Commissions and staff,” Ms Davies said.
“Labor has implied the RDC’s will remain in name only, with all staff to be relocated to new ‘super departments’ in Perth or cut as part of the job losses Labor has flagged.
“This is creating uncertainty and unwarranted distress for regional communities.”
Ms Davies said Regional Development Commission were stand-alone, statutory authorities responsible for job creation, economic development and promotion of WA’s independent regions.
“How will these aims be achieved if Labor gets away with a hodgepodge bureaucracy based in Perth?” she said.
Ms Davies said the Premier was loose with the details and yet to outline the exact Budget savings that would be created by forcing amalgamations on the public sector.
“It seems the Premier is happy for hundreds of public servants to lose their jobs but unwilling to update the special lease rental charge of 25c paid by BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto for decades,” Ms Davies said.
“Once again, Labor is protecting the overseas shareholders of two of the world’s largest mining companies with one hand and hurting Western Australians with the other.”