The Nationals WA condemned the McGowan Government for short-changing the people of regional Western Australia in a motion debated on the floor of State Parliament today.
Leader Mia Davies said Labor’s appalling treatment of regional communities was becoming so critical that the motion was raised as a formal Matter of Public Interest.
She said Labor was hijacking $1 billion of Royalties for Regions to fund core government services – including orange school bus services and water subsidies – at the expense of the program’s original purpose: regional development.
“Our regional communities are losing core programs and services at record pace so Labor can pay off the astronomical credit card bill the Government is racking up in the city,” Ms Davies said.
“The Government’s reasoning that their cuts to Community Resource Centres, the Country Age Pension Fuel Card and important health programs are to fix the Budget has proven baseless and untrue.”
Under The Nationals, Ms Davies said Royalties for Regions championed a regional development agenda and the program was legislated to allocate funds above and beyond normal government expenditure.
“Royalties for Regions was created by The Nationals to bring about the once-in-a-generation projects that cultivate growth of regional economies, create jobs and enrich the lives of regional people,” Ms Davies said.
“It was not created to pay for water subsidies or to keep buses running. Transporting students to and from school is a core Government service which, prior to Labor coming to power, was always funded out of the transport portfolio.
“The McGowan Government is gutting regional development commissions and centralising decision-making to take power away from regional communities. The entire system has been undermined.”
Ms Davies said the Government’s flagship Metronet project was dangerously underfunded, undermining the State’s financial position.
“The State’s finances are not being repaired. Labor has added more debt to the pile through its extravagant and unfunded election promises in Perth,” Ms Davies said.
“It is clear that Labor has absolutely no plan to tackle State debt. No asset sales, no new revenue source, no communicated way to pay for Metronet other than Commonwealth handouts. This is a cross-your-fingers and hope for the best budget.”